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SCIENCE 



FI C T I O N 



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SANTA CLANS PLANET « Frank M. Robinson 
THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN « T. P. Caravan 

THE BUG GJn.onJ Siitur DEATH SENTENCE 
BEFORE THE FACT JT.nna tS^tnJeraon 
WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT 



There IS a Time 
when Your Luck 
Will Change! 

"A ml there shall he .\if;ns in the sun, ami in the 
moon, and in the nations, with perplexity: the 
sea and the waves roarinp: Men’s hearts failing 
them for fear, and for looking after those things 
which are coming ott the earth . . 

-St. Luke 21:25. 26. 

When the Bible w;is written prophecy was an outstanding feature of this 
greatest of all books. Today many scoff at predictions, yet— the Biblical 
prophecy written 2,000 years ago that the Jews would reestablish a new 
nation of Israel, has just come true! Today we know '.hat there are 
“cycles” when wars and world problems reach fanatical heights— then 
changes come. 

Marguerite Carter has given her life to study, keeping records that may 
be used to help mankind. Of one thing you may be sure, she is honest 
and to be trusted! 




This amazing woman predicted, long before, the coming order of 
nations in World War II. In 1943 when Russia was struggling for sur- 
vival, she said: “We shall find it necessary to sit down equally at the 
peace table with Russia and concede to her wishes. Only very shrewd 
maneuvering will prevent her being the completely dominant power in 
Europe ” This has come true! Now— she says— “This is the time of 
many smtill wars, quarrels in families and sudden home changes. 
Through it all, the United .States will advance to unbelievable power 
and sound financial strength. For many, many people there will be 
completely new fields of work!” 

Test Miss Carter’s accuracy for the greatest help you personally have 
ever known. Get "your” forecast for the next twelve months. .Send your 
complete birthday— month, date, and year, the hour of your birth (if 
known), and the place— with a remittance of $2.00 for your forecast 
which will include Miss Carter's special notations showing "Outstanding 
Indications.” Allow three weeks for proper, careful attention. Address: 
Marguerite Caitcr, 791 Jackson Bldg., Indianapolis 2.5, Indiana. 





you're that man, here’s something (hat will 
interest you. 

Not a magic formula — not a get-rich-quick 
scheme — but something more substantial, mote 
practical. 

Of course, you need something more than just 
the desire to be an accountant. You’ve got to pay 
ihc price — be willing to study earnestly, thoroughly. 

Still, wouldn’t it be worth your while to sacri- 
fice some of your leisure in favor of interesting 
home study — over a comj^aratively brief period? 
Always provided that tlic rewards were good — a 
salary of S4,000 to $10,000? 

An accountant’s duties are interesting, varied 
and of real worth to his employers. He has <ianJing! 

Do you feel that such things aren’t for you? 
Well, don’t be too sure. Very possibly they c^n be! 

Why not, like so many before you, investigate 
LaSalle’s modern Problem Method of training for 
an accountancy, position? 

Just suppose you were permitted to work in a 
large accounting house under the personal super- 
vision of an expert accountant. Suppose, with his 
aid, you studied accounting principles and solved 
problems day by day — easy ones at first — then 
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could turn to him for advice as the problems be- 
came complex — soon you’d master them all. 

That’s the training you follow in principle un- 
der the LaSalle Problem Method. 

You cover accountancy from the basic Prin- 
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Income Tax Procedure. Then you add C. P. A. 
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tions. 

As you go along, you absorb the principles of 
Auditing, Cost Accounting, Business Law, Sta- 



tistical Control, Organization, Management and 
Finance. 

Your progress is as speedy as you care to make 
it — depending on your own eagerness to leara 
and the time you spend in study. 

Will recognition come? The only answer, as 
you know, is chat success df>es come to the maa 
who is really trained. It’s possible your employers 
will notice your improvement in a very few weeks 
or months. Indeed, many LaSalle graduates have 
paid for their training — with increased earnings 
— before they have completed it! For accountants, 
who are trained in organization and management, 
are die executives of the future. 

Send For Free Sample Lesson 

For your own good, get all the facts. Write for our 
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That Pays” — also the free sample lesson so you can 
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Over 4,000 Cerflfled Public Accountants 
among LaSalle alumni 



LASALLE EXTENSION UNIVERSITY 
A Correspondence Institution 

Dept. 187-H, 417 S. Dearborn St„ Chicago 5, III. 

Send me without obligation, Free Sample Lesson 
and "Accountancy, The Profession That Pays." 

Namt Age 

Address. 

City, Zone & State 



3 




JANUARY 1955 T T- - » ^ „ 

I INI VERSE 

SCIENCE FICTION 

C^ontentd Page 

THE SHOEMAKER OF IAN T. P. Caravan 8 

BEFORE THE FACT Zenna Henderson 60 

FISSION STORY T. P. Caravan 69 

THE SANTA CLAUS PLANET Frank M. Robinson 76 

CLUBHOUSE (Feature) Rog Phillips 98 

THE CLAWS IN CLAUSMAS....Richard Hodgens & John Kirwan 109 

WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT James McKimmey, Jr. 114 

COVERING THE COVER (Article) Ray Palmer 119 

PERSONALS (Feature) 124 

LETTERS (Feature) 126 



EDITORS: 

RAY PALMER 
BEA MAHAFFEY 



Please address all correspondence to Universe, Amherst, Wise. 

Universe Is published bi-monthly by Palmer Publications, Inc., 806 Dempster St., 
Evanston, Illinois. Entered as second-lass matter at the Post Oltlce at Evanston, 
Illinois. Additional entry at Amherst, Wisconsin. Additional entry at Sandusky. Ohio 
applied for. No responsibility is undertaken for manuscripts, photographs or art- 
work submitted. Return envelope and postage is required. Advertising representative: 
Space Associates, 114 E. 32nd St., New York 16, N.Y. Subscriptions: 12-issues $3.00; 
24-lssues $6.00. Copyright 1954 by Palmer Publications, Inc,, Printed in U.S.A. 



4 




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>1 




T here are many people, as we 
greet you with this October 
Merry Christmas (magazine pub- 
lishing always results in this silly 
situation), who do not realize that 
in the space of 9 short issues UNI- 
VERSE has become the leading 
science fiction magazine. This is 
regrettable, because your editors 
have known it since the very be- 
ginning. We knew it because of 
the plans we had in mind for the 
future. We knew it because Ed- 
mond Hamilton was coming up with 
STARMAN COME HOME, and its 
brilliant sequel. Yes, don’t be so 
surprised and excited; Ed is work- 
ing right now on the sequel, and 
it will appear in a very soon-to- 
come issue of UNIVERSE. Eventu- 
ally everybody but the editors of 
all the other science fiction maga- 
zines will realize what we realize, 
and give UNIVERSE the appro- 
bation it so richly deserves 

To those readers who wrote in 
thanking us for getting the old 
master to begin producing his fa- 
mous stories once more, we nod 
condescendingly in modest pride. 
After all, didn’t you know we’d 
come up holding the prize in the 
big shuffle? 



What about that big shuffle? 
Wasn’t it something! Everybody 
thought science fiction was really 
big-time magazine fodder. Well, it 
isn’t. Science fiction is for just 
a few of us. Not more than 2% 
of the populaton. You can find out 
for yourselves by asking 100 peo- 
ple at random what science fiction 
is; and you’ll get the answer that 
it’s “that crazy kid stuff you see 
on TV these days’’. Those 98% of 
the population are just unable to 
comprehend what science fiction is: 
that it’s twenty years of indoctrin- 
ation, twenty years of experience, 
twenty years of evolvcment through 
time-honored steps as complicated, 
as a course in science in our most 
scientific universities. They don’t 
know that it is a tradition, a fra- 
ternity, a political and moral rev- 
olution in thinking and behavior 
and the relationship of man toward 
man. They don’t know it is tomor- 
row come to today to influence it. 
And because they don’t know these 
things, they will never be attract- 
ed in great numbers to a magazine 
devoted to them. And there are 
several magazines today which 
measure up to the definition we’ve 
given. 



6 




EDITORIAL 



7 



One of them is Astounding Sci- 
ence Fiction. It is an editor, and 
a loyal, Campbell-minded clan. It 
isn’t a magazine, in the mind of 
the 98%. It’s that “deep bunch 
of engineer boys with the atoms 
in their hair”. And there’s UNI- 
VERSE. A guy named Palmer 
and a bunch of readers who would- 
n’t think of addressing him as any- 
thing but “Rap”. UNIVERSE is 
a family, as clannish as they are 
made. The most familiar statement 
in any letter written to UNI- 
VERSE is: “I’ve been following 
YOU since 1928.” Beyond these 
two magazines, the rest are just 
magazines, without the history 
the coat of arms, the family pride 
in past and present and future 
glory. That’s why we’ve just gone 
through the “big delusion” and the 
“big disappointment”. And at last 
the parasites, the termites and the 
clinging aphids have been given 
the “delousing” treatment. They 
lost their money, and how they de- 
serve it! 

Sometimes we wonder if this is 
good? Is there anything wrong 
with our readers writing in now 
and saying (just because we put 
back all the things that used to 
spell “RAP” in OTHER WORLDS 
and AMAZING and FANTASTIC) 
that “now we’re back in the 
groove.” Science fiction, they said, 
was evolving. We’ve always said 
it was evolving. We said it would 
stay ahead of science, but appar- 
ently it isn’t. Today science is 
ahead of science fiction. Science 
is casting so big a shadow that the 
fiction that used to overshadow 
and forecast it is now itself over- 
shadowed. 



What is it that makes men think? 
Is it a textbook, full of thoughts 
already thought? No, it’s some- 
thing interesting, full of enticing 
tidbits of entertainment, which 
lead toward questions, not answers! 
That’s what Palmer science fiction 
always has been. Ever we have 
propounded that we are out to en- 
tertain, but sly ones that we are, 
we are out to deceive! We practice 
a deception on you that leads to 
hard work — the business of think- 
ing. We get you all wrapped in a 
“Hamilton” and you get so happy 
and excited by the adventure you 
forget you aren’t supposed to be 
happy and excited about such child- 
ish things. And right in the mid- 
dle of all this is a sort of “pioneer” 
spirit that induces dissatisfaction 
with “things as they are”. And 
bingo, you’re off into the REAL 
world of science fiction, a reader 
of a REAL, science fiction maga- 
zine ,and you’re a REAL fan! 

What was it made Columbus 
search for a new route to the East? 
Not because he knew America was 
there, but because he had been vast- 
ly stimulated by the entertaining 
concept that the flat world wasn’t 
flat at all, but round. Somebody 
had told him a “story”, and so en- 
tertainingly that the actual “sci- 
ence” wrapped up in it became a 
‘fantasy” rather than a fact; and 
unlike a fact, it had life and spirit 
and an intriguing personality. It 
led Columbus to action, not aca- 
demic argument. 

That’s what a GOOD science fic- 
tion story must do. It must int- 
rigue you by entertainment. It 
must lead you gently, not thrust 
(^Concluded on Page 68) 




What business has a humble shoemaker meddling in re- 
bellion, intrigue or battle? None at all, as the unambitious, 
unheroic, and very unhappy Tark the Shoemaker knew full 
well. But try as he would to explain this, his friends and 
enemies alike insisted that he was Tark the Liberator, 
returned at last to drive the Mauaii from Lan. 



THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



By T. P. Caravan 

Illustrated by Alex Engel 



'^ARK the Shoemaker sat hap- 
pily at his workbench, tapping 
away at the loose sole of a sandal. 
The easy work pleased him, call- 
ing as it did for no great skill or 
exertion. He liked to sit crossleg- 
ged in his little shop, watching the 
world go by outside: as long as it 
pa.ssed by him he was happy. 
Tark — we must admit it — was 
neither brave nor strong, for both 
bravery and strength had nearly 
been bred out of his people in the 
generations of Mauaii rule. Uncon- 



cerned, 
Tark tapped 
and hummed 
and watched the 
dust rise in the streets 
as the day grew older. 

“Shoemaker! Tark looked 
up, startled from his peaceful 
dreams. Bulking large in the door- 
way of his shop, cutting half the 
sunlight out of the day, stood 
Mauaii officer. 

Flat on his face went Tark, 
“Shoemaker! My boots!” 

Tark leaped up, his heart thump- 
ing, and scurried to the pile of fin- 
ished work in the back of his small 
shop. He took down a pair of black 
military boots and, wiping the dust 
from them against his shabby shirt, 
presented them to the officer. 



8 





“A poor 
job,” the sol 
dier said. “But 
good enough for 
this stinking planet. 

How much?” 

Tark had no wish to be 
kicked with the boots he had 
just repaired. “Please,” he said, 
feeling his heart furiously Inside 
his frightened chest. “I beg you 
to accept my work as a gift.” 

The officer turned without 
speaking and marched from the 
shop. 

Tark sat down at his workbench 
again. His ihappy mood was gone, 
his day ruined. Tark lived in con- 
stant fear that the Mauaii would 
someday find out who he was, or 
rather, who his great-grandfather 



had been. He himself was nothing, 
but his ancestor . . .it was safer not 
even to think about such things; so 
he sat tapping, tapping, tapping 
small tacks into the delicate soles 
of a cafe-dancer’s slippers while 
the sunlight poured down onto the 
steaming heat of the dusty cobble- 
stones outside. He worked swiftly, 
speeding up in order to keep his 
mind so busy that no squirming 
fear could creep into it, for Tark 
knew that this day was the seventy- 
fifth anniversary of the liberation 



9 






10 



UNIVERSE 



of his planet from the first Mauaii 
dynasty, and the knowledge lay 
like an accusing terror in the back 
of his mind. 

His efforts to dull his mind only 
keyed it up, and so he heard the 
shouts of the mob long before any- 
body else in any of the small clut- 
tered shops along the street. 

Seventy five years ago his great- 
grandfather, Tark the Liberator, 
had smashed the harsh rule of the 
Mauaii and driven them back to 
their own world, driven them flee- 
ing and tumbling over each other 
in their terror to reach their space 
ships; and the memory of that de- 
feat still embittered the Mauaii 
and intensified their cruelty to 
their reconquered subjects. Cruel 
enough they were normally, but 
the humiliation of their old defeat 
drove them to brutal excesses to- 
ward the people of Lan. 

And now Tark the Shoemaker, 
the only living descendant of the 
great Liberator, shuddered in the 
warm air of his shop as the sounds 
of the mob grew louder. It was 
what he had feared all his life 
Terrified, he bent over his work, 
trying to drown out the oncoming 
shouts with the tap of his 
little hammer. His heart thumped 
louder than ever his hammer did, 
but the shouting grew in his ears. 

“Tark! Tark! Return to your 
people! Tark! Lead us!” 



The shouting grew to a roar as 
the mob turned the corner into the 
narrow street on which his shop 
stood. In front of it, retreating 
slowly, moved three Mauaii soldi- 
ers, walking sullenly backwards, 
facing the mob, drawn swords 
threatening any who moved for- 
ward too fast. One of them was the 
officer whose boots Tark had re- 
paired, and the shoemaker gasped 
in fright as he saw the thin trickle 
of blood flowing scarlet down the 
officer’s cheek. Mauaii blood! Tark 
knew what would come of this: to 
avenge the slightest wound the 
Mauaii would execute the leaders 
among the people of Lan. Even an 
obscure shoemaker might well 
tremble when he thought of the 
vengeance which might be taken 
if the mob resorted to more vio- 
lence. 

“Tark! Tark! Return!” 

And he would no longer be an 
obscure shoemaker, not after to- 
day. The mob called for Tark the 
Liberator, but as his only living de- 
scendant, Tark the Shoemaker 
would have to stand in his place. 
Even as he shrank frightened to- 
ward the back of his shop, he was 
able to appreciate the irony of it. 
It was the belief of his people that 
a great man’s soul could enter the 
body of a direct descendant at sev- 
enty five year intervals: only Tark, 
of all the Lanaii, knew — and who 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



II 



would know better— that this belief 
was false. 

He looked down at his skinny 
arm. Even if the inconceivable 
transmitigration took place, what 
could the great Liberator do with 
such a weak body? He had seen 
the tremendous statue in the main 
square of the city, and he knew 
that his great-grandfather had 
been a huge, iron-muscled warrior. 
The Mauaii let the statue stand as 
a mocking symbol of what the 
Lanaii had lost, but as a child Tark 
used to go and look for hours at it, 
hoping desperately to grow into 
such a man ; he knew now how vain 
those hopes had been. 

The soldiers backed slowly past 
the open front of his shop, and the 
first of the mob poured into the 
doorway. “Tark!” Cheering, they 
pulled him into the street. “Tark 
the Liberator!” Panic-stricken, he 
took a last look back at his shop. 
It was being looted already. He 
would never see it again. Even if 
he escaped from the hero-worship- 
ing people, the Mauaii would seize 
him. Hurried along willy-nilly in 
the front ranks of the mob, he felt 
the officer’s eyes on him, and he 
tried to shrink back into the safety 
of the crowd. 

“Shoemaker, I’ll know you,” the 
officer promised grimly. 

“It isn’t ... I don’t . . .” He 
broke off in terror. How could he 



ever explain? Panic suddenly 
drowned him in its agony, and he 
knew nothing more until he found 
himself in the public square of the 
city, standing under the statue of 
the Liberator, while thousands of 
his people cheered until the roof- 
tops seemed to sway over his head. 

A burly, red-headed man hoisted 
him up on the pedestal and then 
jumped up with him. “Shut up,” 
he whispered. “Don’t say any- 
thing.” Bewildered, Tark nodded. 

“Lanaii,” shouted the burly man. 
“People!” 

The crowd began to quiet down. 
Tark looked trembling over the 
thousands of upturned faces. 
Couldn’t they see how weak a man 
he was and how tremendously the 
statue loomed over him? Couldn’t 
they tell his great grandfather’s 
spirit would laugh at such a des- 
cendant? But he only saw illusion 
and false hope in the faces of his 
people. 

“People of Lan!” The burly man 
stood beside Tark, his red hair 
glisting in the sunlight. “Listen to 
me now, for it is time to speak. It 
is time to speak, and it is time to 
rise. Seventy five years ago — ^who 
forgets the date?” He paused as a 
roar rose from the crowd. “Seven- 
ty five years ago the mighty Tark 
arose — Tark the Liberator!” An- 
other roar. “And he cleaned the 
world of Lan, cleaned out the last 




12 



UNIVERSE 



Mauaii and gave us back our 
planet He waited for silence. 
“And then he died.” The crowd 
stood motionless, living through 
the familiar story. “He died and 
the Mauaii came back with their 
whips and swords and cruelty. 
They came back with pride and 
oppression. They came back with 
murder and torture in their hands. 
They came back and took over our 
world.” He paused. You could hear 
the heavy breathing of the crowd. 
“But they did not know that Tark 
would come back too. They did not 
know that when the great cycle of 
three times twenty five years had 
been completed our Liberator 
would return. They did not know 
that this humble shoemaker, living 
in obscurity, was the descendant of 
our greatest hero. They did not 
know that today Tark, Tark the 
Shoemaker would become. Tark the 
Liberator 1” 

The roar that answered him was 
like nothing Tark had ever heard 
before. He reeled under the impact 
of the noise. “Stand up, you damn 
fool,” the red headed man whisper- 
ed to him. 

“And they did not know that this 
day would mark the end of their 
tyranny on the planet of Lan.” The 
orator leaned over the edge of the 
pedestal and someone handed up a 
huge sword. The speaker took it 
and waved it over his head. His 



voice rose to a tremendous shout. 
“And they did not know that this 
sword, the sword of Tark the Lib- 
erator, would again drive them to 
destruction.” He turned to face the 
shoemaker. “Tark!” he shouted. 
“The people of Lan return you 
your sword. Use it as you did be- 
before.” 

He almost dropped it, it was so 
heavy. 

“Say something,” snarled the red 
head. 

Tark could hardly speak. “Er 
. . .Thank you,” was all he could 
get out. “I’ll take good care of it.” 

A roar of laughter rose from the 
crowd. “Tark!” they cried. “Tark 
forever!” And the orator slapped 
him on the back with a heavy fist. 
“A hero speaks,” he shouted. “No 
braggart, no boaster here. He 
holds the silver sword of liberation. 
You have heard him. He will guard 
it with his life. In his hands its 
jewelled hilt will be red with the 
blood or tyrants. Tark has return- 
ed, Tark the Liberator!” 

He looked down at the sword: it 
glittered in the sunlight. Tark had 
never seen jewels before except 
when some great Mauaii lady 
would pass at a distance. Hht did 
it have to be so heavy? When he 
looked up again the red-headed 
orator was gone, and he stood alone 
on the pedestal beneath the mighty 
statue. How could he ever explain 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



13 



that the great Liberator’s soul had 
not entered his body — that he was 
as weak and timid as he had ever 
been? “I . . he said, and the 
crowd cheered! “I . . and they 
cheered again, louder! Looking 
down, he saw tears of joy on many 
a face. 

Over the heads of the crowd 
something was coming toward him, 
passed hand over hand. A throne. 
The war throne of Lan, in which 
only the war-leader of the Lanaii 
might sit. And it was coming to- 
ward him! 

Frightened, he looked down at 
his heavy sword. Would he ever see 
his own room again,? He had a few 
slices of meat waiting in the tiny 
kitchen. It was rare for Tark to be 
able to afford meat, but he had 
meant to celebrate the safe pas- 
sage of this dangerous day with a 
feast of sorts. 

The throne was almost up to the 
pedestal, passed by eager hands. 
Not even the ruling kings of Lan, 
in the far off days before they had 
gracefully given wa.y to the Lanaii 
democracy, not even they had sat 
in that throne unless they were 
leading their armies against the 
rare enemies of their people. For 
centuries the world had been at 
peace, the old dynastic struggles 
long forgotten before the sudden 
overwhelming first arrival of the 
Mauaii. There had been no war 



even then, for the Mauaii had con- 
quered the whole planet almost in- 
stantly: the people of Lan had for- 
gotten the deadly arts of battle. 
But Tark the Liberator had sat in 
that throne during his brief life as 
a leader of the resurgent Lanaii, 
and now it was coming to him! He 
shrank back in the shadow of the 
great statue. 

The crowd roared its approval as 
the throne reached him. WJiat 
could he do? There was no way out 
except to play the farce to the end. 
He knew he lacked the necessary 
courage to destroy his people’s 
hopes. Sadly he stepped forward 
and tooik the throne, clutching the 
jewelled sword as he did so. The 
thunder of the crowd’s applause 
was like an earthquake. “To the 
governor’s palace!” someone shout- 
ed, and instantly the throne was 
whirled up on twenty shoulders and 
carried through a path which mir- 
aculously opened in the mob. 

It didn’t seem right, somehow, 
that the man who was expected to 
bring freedom back to his people 
should be carried like a despot 
through the streets by his fellow 
men. Freedom should go hand in 
hand with equality, but the adora- 
tion given him seemed almost as 
great as the humiliating groveling 
the Mauaii extracted from their 
underlings. It didn’t seem right: 
and, of course, it wasn’t right, es- 




14 



UNIVERSE 



pecially since everyone was look- 
ing with worshipful eyes at the 
wrong man. 

His carriers were jogging along 
the main thoroughfare now, with 
the crowd of thousands running 
along behind them. Tark could see 
the golden turrets of the Mauaii 
governor’s palace ahead of him. In 
the bobbing throne he had forgot- 
ten his fear, as if it had been with 
him so long he no longer felt it, but 
a sudden frightened sweat broke 
out on his forehead as he saw files 
of Mauaii soldiers running down 
the long street toward him. The 
sword in his hands seemed to slip 
in the clammy grip of his palms, 
and he ’ clutched it tighter with a 
hopeless determination. ‘'Let me 
down,” he shouted, and the bear- 
ers lowered the throne to the street. 
He stood up. 

The crowd was silent behind him. 
Despite their faith, he sensed them 
backing slowly away, but he was 
afraid to look around. If he saw 
their fear . . . 

— I mustn’t faint, he told him- 
self, and I mustn’t run away. He 
clutched the sword: the bright sky 
reeled around him. He took a deep 
shuddering breath. Why had he 
never fully enjoyed his life? Why 
had he never known even the glory 
of simply breathing in the sun- 
light? 

— Great grandfather, he thought, 



if you can, come to me now. If 
there is any truth to this belief in 
a great man’s return to the body 
of his descendant come to me now. 
Now. I need you. 

Was the sword lighter in his 
shaking hands, or was it only his 
frantic wish that fooled him into 
thinking it was? 

He heard a frightened gasp go up 
from the crowd behind him as the 
soldiers drew nearer. 

— Help me now, he prayed, not 
for myself but for these people who 
are trusting me to protect them. 

Was his arm stronger? 

He lifted the sword and stepped 
forward. He had never held a sword 
before — the people of Lan were for- 
bidden to have weapons — but he 
knew that if Tark the Liberator 
were entering his body that he 
would be one of the greatest 
swordsmen ever to live. Squaring 
his shoulders, he stepped out brisk- 
ly toward the oncoming troops. 

“So, Shoemaker! What sort of 
cobbler’s tool is that?” The offi- 
cer whose boots he had repaired — 
W'as it only a few hours ago? — was 
laughing at him. “You are the lead- 
er of these people. Shoemaker? 
You’ll need more than resoling 
after we’re done with you.” Draw- 
ing his sword, the officer approach- 
ed Tark. 

• — Now! he thought, guide my 
arm and give me your greatness. 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



IS 



Now or never. Tark leaped forward 
and tried to swing the heavy sword 
at the officer’s head. 

The next thing he knew he was 
lying in the gutter and the soldiers 
were running after the screaming 
crowd. He graped frantically for 
his sword. 

“Is this what you want, Shoe- 
maker?” The officer was laughing 
down at him.” I’ve never seen a 
clumsier attempt in my life.” He 
held the sword mockingly toward 
Tark. “Silver! what kind of silly 
metal is that to make a weapon of? 
It won’t take an edge, it’s heavy, 
and it’s weak. Like the minds of 
your people, hey fool?” He put 
the point of the sword on Tark’s 
throat. 

Abject misery flowed through the 
shoemaker’s mind. If he had only 
had the courage to deny the red- 
headed man’s speech he wouldn’t 
have been here now, waiting for 
death. If he had only had the sense 
to know his great grandfather’s 
spirit was not in him and never 
would be in him he wouldn’t have 
led the crowd of his people into the 
trap the soldiers had laid for them. 
That, even more than the thought 
of his own death, filled his eyes 
with blurred tears. 

“You needn’t weep,” the officer, 
said. “A heroic shoemaker like 
you deserves a heroic death.” He 
took the sword away. “Tomorrow 



... in the arena. Let’s go. Shoe- 
maker. Get up out of the gutter. 
Tomorrow you’ll pay well for this 
scratch on my forehead. Let’s go, 
hero. Move!” 

And so Tark the Shoemaker was 
kicked with his own boots, after all. 

“It didn’t work,” the girl said. 
“I told you it wouldn’t work.” 

“Listen,” said the red-headed 
man, “it would have worked if the 
poor fool had any guts at all. How 
was I to know he’d let them cap- 
ture him so easily? If he’d put up 
even the slightest fight they would 
have killed him and everything 
would have been all right.” 

“You’re an idiot, Rogar,” the 
girl snapped. “Now he’s going to 
be slaughtered in the arena tomor- 
row. Everyone will see what he is; 
a coward!” She spat out the word 
in disgust. “What help is that to 
us?” 

“Leave it to me. Princess. I’ll 
think of something.” 

“Just see that he dies properly,”’ 
she said. 

The next day’s sunlight glared 
down on the arena, shimmering on 
the blood-stained sand. Men 
fought and died there, fought and 
died for the pleasure of the Mauaii 
rulers. Again and again the air 
shuddered under the swift whisper- 
ing passage of arrows as a small 
group or archers tried to hold off 




i6 



UNIVERSE 



the charge' of a larger group of men 
armed with heavy iron clubs: if 
once the club-wielding men could 
close with the archers the battle 
would be decided in their favor, 
and they formed and re-formed 
desperately, trying to close the 
deadly gap between them, but each 
time they fell back in disorder. As 
the last of the men with clubs fell 
to the bloody sand, a blast of trum- 
pets proclaimed the archers trium- 
phant. 

Pompous in his scarlet-trimmed 
box, the Mauaii governor made a 
signal. A gate at the far end of the 
arena slowly creaked open, and the 
archers gasped as they saw their 
death approaching. They had ex- 
pected freedom as a reward for vic- 
tory. With a curse, one of them 
whirled and shot his arrow squarely 
at the governor, but it bounced 
back from the screen protecting 
him: all of the best seats, those in 
which the Mauaii sat, were covered 
by this transparent screen. Only 
the people of Lan, many of whom 
had been forced to attend the 
bloody rites, sat in seats unprotect- 
ed from stray missies. 

Now the Lanaii sat in wretched 
silence as they watched their 
countrymen die under the fangs 
of the wild beasts that had been 
set upon them. No archer, no mat- 
ter how powerful, could stop one 
of these savage animals which had 



been brought from the Mauaiian 
home planet of Ter; and the Lan- 
aii archers, like the Lanaii club- 
wielders, were only ordinary citi- 
zens whom the Mauaii had picked 
up and given a week’s training be- 
fore sending them to fight and die 
in the arena. 

When the arena was at last clear- 
ed, the trumpets blew again. High 
and shrill they blew their message 
to the waiting Tark as he sat sor- 
rowfully in his dungeon under the 
stands. He knew he was about to 
die, and he knew he would die 
poorly, for he had never known 
such fright and misery in his life. 
All night he had prayed for brav- 
ery, but it had not come to him. 

He shuddered as the clanking 
iron door of his cell swung open. 
“Let’s go, there,” a guard ordered. 
“Do I have to pick you up and 
carry you?” Tark climbed wearily 
to his feet. “I hear you’re the big 
hero around here,'” the guard said. 

“Not me,” said Tark. “Not me.” 

“Not you? You wouldn’t be try- 
ing to fool a poor soldier, now, 
would you?” He jabbed Tark light- 
ly with the point of his spear and 
Tark scurried ahead of him. “A 
girl in a cafe last night offered me 
ten thousand shofars if I’d help you 
get away.” 

Tark’s heart leaped inside him: 
for a minute he couldn’t speak, 
and the noise of the crowd outside 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



17 



was a great buzzing in his ears. 
“Escape?” He threw his hands out 
to the soldier. “You’re going to let 
me go?” Life had never been so 
dear to him. 

The soldier guffawed. “Hero,” 
he said, “do you think all the 
money on this lousy planet could 
buy a Mauaii soldier? And besides, 
I never trust a woman. How did I 
know I wouldn’t get paid with a 
knife in the throat? On your way, 
now. Let’s go,” He shoved Tark 
along the dark hallway toward the 
blaze of sunlight coming in through 
the entrance. 

Hope frustrated is worse than no 
hope at all. Sick at heart, Tark 
walked toward the arena. What tor- 
tures were waiting for him there? 

Had it only been one day since 
■he sat in the peaceful obscurity of 
his cobbler’s shop? He groaned in- 
wardly. 

“What’s going to happen to 
me?” he whispered hopelessly. 

“You’re not much of a hero af- 
ter all, are you shoemaker?” 
a loud voice said. Clinking in full 
armor, the officer who had captur- 
ed him came up. “I’ll take over the 
prisoner,” he said, and the soldier 
saluted and left. “I’ll tell you 
what’s going to happen,” the offi- 
cer sneered. “We’re going to march 
out there together, and the herald 
is going to give you a choice of 
deaths: you can die the easy death 



by poison; or you can die on my 
sword’s point, and I tell you. Shoe- 
maker, I’m going to chop you into 
a quivering wreck before I let you 
die.” He slapped Tark heavily on 
the back. “I don’t like your face. 
Shoemaker.” 

The trumpets blew again. Tark 
walked toward the bright doorway 
almost with relief. Having spent 
the night trembling in fear of being 
tortured, the knowledge that he 
could choose an easy death made 
him feel a little better. 

“Wait!” the officer shouted as 
they reached the doorway. “Am I 
supposed to slaughter this animal 
without refreshment?” 

One of the arena servants, a 
Lanaian girl, rushed over with a 
goblet of wine. As the officer drank 
it, she stood there, waiting to carry 
the goblet away; and, to Tark’s 
amazement, made a swift face at 
him. He shook his head in bewil- 
derment. Swiftly she gestured to- 
ward the officer and closed both 
eyes tightly for a brief instant. 

Crazy, Tark decided. 

The sight of the wine reminded 
him that he hadn’t been fed since 
his capture. Now he would never 
eat that meat he had waiting for 
him home. His landlady’s fat hus- 
band would probably get it. 

Instead of handing the goblet 
back to the serving girl, the officer 
smashed it against the side of the 




i8 



UNIVERSE 



passageway. ‘All right,” he said. 
“Let’s go. This armor is fine in 
ibattle, but it’s too heavy to stand 
around in. Come on, Shoemaker, or 
do you need another kick?” 

As they stepped together into the 
arena, Tark felt the serving girl 
squeeze his arm briefly in encour- 
agement. 

— But why should it be me? he 
thought. I don’t want to die. Why 
me? I have nothing against the 
Mauaii. I’d do anything . . . any- 
thing . . . 

Anguished, he heard the roar of 
the crowd as the bright sunlight 
struck him. 

“So you failed, Rogar.” 

“Princess, I tried everything. I 
had men ready to poison his food 
but the Mauaii didn’t bother to 
feed him. I sent a man to stab him 
in his cell but the fellow couldn’t 
even get to the door.” 

“I trust you punished him pro- 
perly?” 

“The man is dead, Princess.” 

“I wish Tark were dead in his 
place.” 

“He will be.” 

She rose angrily from her chair, 
“But he’ll die like a coward. What 
good did it do us to set all yester- 
day’s uprising afoot? We were 
going to use Tark’s death as a 
rallying point, a propaganda wea- 
pon. Now what can we do?” 



“We can wait, Princess. Tark is 
nothing more than a pawn.” He 
paced up and down the room. “We 
can set a rumor going that he was 
not really the Liberator’s descen- 
dant. We can say that he was an 
imposter, a fake The people will 
believe anything if you tell them 
often enough.” 

“Roger,” she said, “I’ll give you 
one more chance. Somehow we 
must rouse the people and keep 
them roused. As for this Tark bus- 
iness, we’ll consider it a temporary 
failure, an unimportant setback in 
our plans.” 

“Very well.” He glared at her as 
she left. Some day she’d learn who 
really held the power. 

He walked slowly forward, feel- 
ing the sunlight warm on his back. 
In the best seats the Mauaii were 
laughing scornfully at this shabby 
little hero of the people of Lan, but 
Tark’s own people sat silently as 
they saw their dreams of liberation 
about to die. 

Suddenly flowers fell at his feet, 
flowers thrown from the crowd. 
He stooped and picked one up. It 
lay delicately in his hand, the 
soft yellow petals surrounding the 
crimson center. It was the barum- 
pyati, the flower traditionally re- 
served to deck the grave of the 
heroic dead. Tark raised his eyes to 
the crowd: they still had faith in 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



19 



him. They longed so desperately 
for freedom that they were unable 
to see clearly what he was — a poor 
shoemaker and nothing else. Self- 
pity poured over him: this delusion 
of his people was going to cause 
his death. 

Death 1 He had not realized un- 
til now the full meaning of what 
was going to happen to him. Ter- 
rified, he raised his eyes to the 
golden sun overhead. A few birds 
wheeled across the empty sky. He 
shuddered. 

Another high blast of the frum- 
pets. Silence fell across the crowd. 
Tark and the officer stood in front 
of the governor’s box. 

In full ceremonial costume, a 
herald marched into the center of 
the arena. 

“Now for punishment,” he 
shouted according to the old for- 
mula of the Mauaii. “Now for 
punishment comes one Tark, a 
shoemaker of the people of Lan. 
He confesses his guilt and begs 
mercy.” 

Tark looked around, surprised. 
He would have confessed anything 
they had asked him to, but nobody 
had spoken to him between the 
time he had been flung into his 
dungeon and the time the soldier 
had come to bring him to the arena. 
A sudden hope flared in his chest. 

“Now to give punishment comes 
the noble warrior, Sopus, officer in 



the armies of Ter. Blood has been 
drawn. How say you, Sopus, do 
you grant mercy?” 

The officer stepped forward. 
“Mercy? I grant him death.” 

The golden light still poured 
down, but it seemed to Tark that 
a cloud had moved over the sun, 
chilling him to the marrow of his 
bones. 

The governor leaned forward in 
his seat. “Shoemaker,” he said, 
“the Mauaii are a merciful people. 
We grant you the choice of deaths. 
Which will it be? Death by poi- 
son, pairiless and swift, or death 
by the sword, which will come as 
it may.” 

It’ll come through the belly,” 
the officer whispered. “You’d bet- 
ter choose the coward’s death.” 

The herald approached Tark and 
held out a tiny bottle. Fascinated, 
he gazed at the colorless liquid. 
There it was. The end. His heart 
beat as if it would burst from his 
chest. Couldn’t they hear it? He 
was unable to speak, unable to 
open his dry lips. The sun was hot 
again, burning down into his skull 
through his thin sandy colored hair. 
He closed his eyes. 

“He choses death by the sword,” 
the herald cried. 

“No,” said Tark. “Wait ... I 
. . .” But his protests were drown- 
ed by the great cheer which rose 
from the Lanaii in the stands. 




20 



UNIVERSE 



“You’re a fool, Shoemaker,” 
whispered the officer, “but I didn’t 
think you had the guts to stand up 
and fight me.” 

The trumpets burst into melody. 
Tark stood appalled: he had 

thrown away his chance for an 
easy death. Was it fear that had 
sealed his mouth? Certainly panic 
had had much to do with it, but 
hadn’t there been a touch of . . . 
of what? ... of fighting spirit? 
Again and again the trumpets blew 
the call to combat, deafening poor 
Tark with their noise. — Nonsense, 
he thought, be honest: it was noth- 
ing but fear that kept you from the 
poison. 

Sopus, the officer whom he was 
to fight, had turned and marched 
to the other side of the arena, 
where a servant handed him his 
heavy battle helmet and huge 
shield. Now he was armored in 
thick metal from head to knees. 

Someone touched Tark on the 
shoulder. He whirled around with 
a small cry of panic. The girl, the 
arena servant who had made faces 
at him in the passageway, handed 
■him the useless silver sword and a 
great shield. The herald stood be- 
side her. 

“The weapons of Lan,” he shout- 
ed. “A shield to hide behind, a 
sword to glitter in futility, and 
armor — ” he flicked disdainfully 
at Tark’s shirt — •” armor of dirty 



cloth. Timid, weak and unreliable: 
here is the hero of the Lanaii!” A 
roar of laughter went up from the 
Mauaii. 

The girl winked at him. Winked! 
Even at this dreadful moment he 
found time to pity her feeble mind. 

The shield was not designed as a 
combat weapon: even if it had 

been, Tark wouldn’t have known 
how to handle it. Clumsily he held 
it in front of him, clutching at the 
hilt of the sword with his other 
hand. He really needed both hands 
to manage the sword, but he 
clung frantically to the illusion of 
safety the shield gave him. It was 
much more in his nature to defend 
himself by hiding or by flight than 
by taking the offensive. 

Of course he had no hope of win- 
ning against a trained soldier, even 
if his weapons had been as good, 
and even if he had worn the armor 
the officer was wearing. As it was, 
he realized, he had no chance at all. 

And then it struck him that the 
Mauaii might be afraid of him! 

Sending a fully armored warrior 
against a weak shoemaker dressed 
in his ordinary clothing, sending a 
professional soldier with his battle- 
tested weapons against a civilian 
armed only with weak ceremonial 
sword and shield — ^was this the 
vaunted Mauaii heroism? It looked 
as if they had heard of the Lanaii 
belief that the Liberator’s mighty 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



21 



spirit had entered his body. It 
looked as if everybody on the two 
planets believed he was a great 
warrior. The Mauaii, at any rate, 
were taking no chances. He smiled 
weakly at the irony of it as he 
looked up for one last sight of the 
golden sun. 

The governor made a signal and 
the trumpets blasted. 

Swaggering in his heavy armor, 
the officer started across the arena 
toward Tark. 

“Has he been killed yet?” 

“The messenger will bring us 
word as soon as he’s dead, Princess. 
I thought we agreed to forget about 
him. He’s nothing to us now.” 

She strode across the floor. “I 
know,” she said, “but . . .” 

Roger grabbed her by the wrist. 
“But what?” 

“I still . . . Suppose there’s 
something in it?” 

“By all the gods! Something in 
what?” 

Angrily she shook herself free. 
“Something in this belief that the 
Liberator’s spirit can enter his 
body.” 

Flopping down on the chair she 
had left, Rogar shouted with 
laughter. 

“You forget yourself,” she cried 
angrily. “I am princess of the 
people of Lan!” 

He laughed louder. “And you’re 



just as superstitious as the oldest 
fishwoman in the marketplace. 
You’d better read those reports 
again. Your great-grandfather 
wouldn’t be pleased. Gods, Prin- 
cess, don’t you know he started 
that myth himself to cover up the 
fact that it was he who killed the 
Liberator? Old Tark was intending 
to restore democracy here on Lan, 
and we couldn’t have that, now, 
could we? Where would that leave 
us? Don’t fall for our own propa- 
ganda, Princess. It will take more 
than an impressionable woman to 
rule this world once we force the 
Mauaii out: it will take a hand of 
steel and a mind of iron. You can 
afford no weaknesses.” 

“All the same,” she said. “I’m 
sorry we ever stirred this business 
up. I’ll be glad when he’s dead.” 

The cold sweat of fear dripped 
from his brow and ran into his 
eyes. His breath came and went 
quickly through his open mouth. 
He stood rooted to the spot as So- 
pus, moving slower as he neared 
Tark, approached. Uncontrollably 
his knees began to tremble. He 
took a step backwards and the 
shield, rapping against his leg, tilt- 
ed away from his body. 

He tried to bring it back with his 
arm, but the clumsy grip let it tilt 
further away, uncovering his chest. 
Panic stricken, he saw his enemy 




22 



UNIVERSE 



drawing back his sword. The whole 
shield was slipping from his sweaty 
handhold, sliding to the left as it 
did so, falling to the ground. For- 
getting everything else in his 
fright, he dropped the sword and 
grabbed at the shield with both 
hands, falling to his knee as he did 
so in an effort to keep behind it. 

Sopus’ sword whistled by over 
his head. He didn’t even see it go 
past. 

His shield flopped onto the 
bloody sand and he scrabbled des- 
perately for it, whimpering with 
fear. Nothing else mattered. Then 
he heard the mingled roar of the 
crowd and fell back just in time to 
miss being cut in half. He scram- 
bled to his feet, defenseless now 
with neither sword nor shield. 

Sopus slowly approached, a 
deadly figure in his heavy armor. 
A few minutes ago terror had made 
Tark unable to move, but now' it 
sent his feet dancing in an uncon- 
trolled jig of pure agony; he had 
tapped a vast reservoir of energy 
as his body made a last frantic ef- 
fort to escape death. He rushed in 
desperation around the soldier, 
trying to reach his sword and 
shield, but Sopus, though he seem- 
ed to move with ponderous slow'- 
ness. held him away from them. 
Tark knew that this burst of 
energy would soon pass, leaving 
him an easy mark for the officer’s 



glittering sword. His horror of 
death, though it gained him this 
new strength, robbed him of the 
coordination needed to make use of 
it, and his flying feet tripped over 
nothing. Down he went. His scream 
was drowned in the roar of the 
crowd. In a last frantic effort as he 
lay on the ground, he flung a hand- 
ful of sand upward as Sopus bent 
over him for the death blow. 

He was still alive! He was still 
alive! Even as he rolled away he 
found time to wonder at it. 

The soldier had dropped his 
shield and was digging vainly into 
his helmet with the mailed glove of 
his left hand. The sand had gone 
into his eyes. Tark, moving writh 
the nimbleness of despair, jumped 
behind him and gave him a shove: 
he stepped forward and tripped 
over his shield, falling with a rattle 
of armor to the ground. 

Tark jumped at him and graib- 
bed his sword, but Sopus grimly 
hung onto it. The two men wrest- 
led for the sword for an instant, 
and Tark knew he was no match 
in strength for the soldier. His 
own weapon was lying on the sand 
twenty feet away, but if he tried 
to get it, his enemy would be able 
to get to his feet again. Sopus shov- 
ed him rolling away, and Tark’s 
flailing hand fell on the arrow that 
had been shot at the governor. He 
grabbed it and leaped back at the 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



23 



blinded warrior, poking the point 
of the arrow at the opening in the 
armor at the throat where the hel- 
met met the chestpiece. 

He held the arrow firmly in both 
hands, but as he was about to jab 
it into Sopus’ windpipe he was as- 
tonished to hear the soldier scream 
in terror. 

“I give up!” He heard it even 
over the roar of the crowd. “Shoe- 
maker! Mercy!” 

Slowly Tark got to his feet. He 
couldn’t kill the man; he couldn’t 
kill anyone. He was too familiar 
with the agony of seeing death’s 
inexorable approach; he knew too 
well how sweet life could be. 

Cursing himself for a coward, he 
stood on the bloody sand as the as- 
tonished roar of the crowd swirled 
about him. Why couldn’t he be like 
his great-grandfather? Why could- 
n’t he be a hero like the mighty 
Liberator whose name he bore, a 
•hero who could face death joyfully 
and deal it out with a laugh? But 
he knew that he was no hero, only 
an ordinary man. 

The trumpets blew again and 
silence fell over the vast audience 
in the stands. The governor leaned 
forward in his chair. “Shoemaker,” 
he said, “you have been visited by 
the god of luck this day. Your 
fighting was marred by low and 
unfair tactics, tactics which are 
not in accordance with the rules of 



battle, but we could expect no 
other behavior from a Lanian. You 
will not be given another chance; 
you have forfeited all rights to be 
treated with decency. Tomorrow 
morning you will be returned to 
the arena and burned alive.” He 
stilled the rising murmer of the 
crowd with a gesture of his hand. 
“As for you, Sopus, former officer 
of the armies of Ter, after your 
disgrace . . .” He broke off. 

The soldier, who had been sitting 
up as if dazed, leaning on one 
hand, crumpled forward to the 
ground. Tark looked down at him 
in amazement: Sopus was uncon- 
scious. 

Night: the two tiny moons of 
Lan stood high in the star-specked 
sky over the sleeping city. Their 
dim light shone down on the empty 
streets where here and there a 
Mauaii sentry walked his lonely 
rounds. An occasional burst of re- 
velry floated out on the night air 
from behind the closely shuttered 
windows and barred doors in the 
poorer sections of the city where 
the Lanaii were allowed to live: 
the people of Lan were jubilant to- 
night. They would soon be free of 
their hated overlords. Had not 
Tark the Liberator returned and 
won a great victory in the arena? 
The story, told and retold a thou- 
sand times that night, lost nothing 




24 



UNIVERSE 



in the telling. In the people’s minds 
rose a single toast: Long life to 
TarkI 

But in one of the houses — 
“Death to Tark! Princess, this 
has gone too far. We were wrong to 
start it. He must be killed tonight. 
Any display of his real nature now 
would set our cause back for years, 
perhaps destroy it forever. The 
people’s reaction when they found 
they had been fooled ... I don’t 
even want to think about it. We 
had amazing luck this afternoon 
when he won that fight in the 
arena.” 

“All right, Rogar. Go and kill 
him yourself. Take as many of our 
supporters as you need.” 

He bowed, “Now you speak like 
the true ruler of the people of Lan. 
He will be dead before the sun 
rises.” 

And in the governor’s palace — 
“Death to Tark!” The governor 
pounded his fist on the table. 
“These idiotic Lanaii look on him 
as some kind of hero. Seems he’s 
descended from that statue in the 
public square.” 

“The statue, Lord Governor?” 
“Don’t be a fool. He’s supposed 
to be some sort of reincarnation of 
the man that statue represents. The 
people look on him as their hero. 
Hero! A skinny weakling.” He 



laughed. “And he wasn’t even a 
good shoemaker.” 

Obsequiously, his staff laughed 
with -him. 

“But I want him killed tomor- 
row, and I want you to herd as 
many Lanaii into the stands as 
possible. He must die slowly, with 
torture. You understand? It is im- 
portant that he die as badly as pos- 
sible. I want his people to see how 
feeble a hero they have chosen. I 
intend to break their spirits once 
and for all.” -He glared around. 
“And now to the main point of this 
meeting. Tark himself is unimport- 
ant. My secret police have inform- 
ed me that some of you — don’t look 
surprised, you know I check on you 
— that some of you have been 
heard to say that after today’s 
combat you could half believe that 
the spirit of these people’s hero 
had entered this shoemaker’s 
body.” He thumped his fist down. 
No one dared meet his eyes. “Per- 
haps you have simply been on this 
stinking planet too long; perha!ps 
you want to be sent home to Ter, 
eh? No? Nobody wishes to be sent 
home in disgrace?” He raised his 
voice to a shout. “All right thenl 
Put this insane native belief out of 
your minds! You will see tomor- 
row how this hero dies.” 

And in the tiny cell underneath 
the stands of the arena — 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



25 



Tark lay shivering on the stone 
floor. Hunger, fear and the cold 
kept him miserably awake. With 
open eyes he stared into the dark- 
ness. He had done nothing, noth- 
ing at all to deserve this. It didn’t 
matter to him who ruled his world: 
he was content to obey and be 
silent. And yet tomorrow . . . be- 
cause of an accident of birth and 
a foolish superstition they were 
going to take him out into the sun- 
light and burn him alive. And after 
he was dead the sunlight would 
continue to come down gently on 
the rolling fields of Lan, and next 
week, perhaps, some one else would 
lie trembling and wretched on the 
damp stone floor of this cell. 

He came uncontrollably to his 
feet, grabbing the iron bars with 
his desperate hands, shouting, 
screaming. “It’s me!” he yelled 
over and over hardly knowing what 
he was doing. “It’s me! Let me go! 
I never did anjdhing!” He smashed 
his feet against the base of the 
door, kicking out frantically as if 
he wanted to thrust all the force of 
his body into one panic-stricken 
last effort to save his life. 

Down the corridor a door swung 
open, blinding him for an instant 
with the light that poured out from 
the room behind it. “Shut up there, 
prisoner. You won’t be so eager to 
get out tomorrow when we come to 
get you.” A soldier stepped into 



into the passageway. Behind him 
Tark could see three more guards 
sitting around a table. 

He fell back from the bars, pant- 
ing in deep breaths as he tried to 
regain control of himself. It wasn’t 
the soldier who had brought him 
out of his terror: it was the sight 
of the girl who had made faces at 
him. She was serving wine to the 
guards, and in some corner of his 
mind Tark was ashamed of show- 
ing her his anguished fear of death. 
Poor crazy girl, she was in some 
measure a friendly face. The dark- 
ness returned ten-fold as the soldier 
stepped back and slammed the 
door behind him. Tark shut his 
eyes and rested his heated fore- 
head against the cool bars, hating 
himself for a coward. What would 
the great Liberator have done in 
such circumstances? He would have 
lured the soldier into reach and 
choked the life out of him. He 
would have wrenched the bars from 
his cell by brute strength. He would 
have dug through the wall. He 
would have done any of a thou- 
sand things. He would have killed 
Sopus when he had a chance. He 
would never have been captured in 
the first place. Tark dug his nails 
into the palms of his hands: he 
mustn’t lose control of himself 
again. 

Slowly he sank to the cold floor 
of the cell. How much longer did 




26 



UNIVERSE 



he have to live? Light glowed in the 
passageway as the door to the sol- 
diers’ guardroom swung open. He 
clenched his eyes shut bitterly as 
tight as he could. Was it time? 

— Help me, he prayed hopeless- 
ly, help me, great grandfather. If 
you can’t give me your spirit and 
your strength, at least give me your 
courage to die. 

But he felt a terrible shudder of 
fear as the door of his cell squealed 
open. 

“Tark! Quickly! Your life is in 
danger.” 

Opening his eyes in amazement, 
he jumped to his feet. For a mom- 
ent he could only wonder that 
someone would bother to give him 
such useless information, then his 
fear-frozen brain began to work 
again. It wasn’t a soldier; it was 
the crazy girl, the arena servant. 
“Hurry,” she said. “They’ll be 
coming to in a few minutes.” 

“What? Who? I . . .” 

Impatiently, she grabbed him 
by the arm and yanked him from 
the cell. “This way. Follow me.” 

For an instant he couldn’t be- 
lieve his good fortune. His mind, 
used to continual disappointment, 
was unable to grasp the fact that 
he had a chance for life. Instead of 
renewed hope, he felt only concern 
for the girl who was leading him 
down the corridor. Even if she was 
insane could she unlock his cell 



door without being punished? 

“Wait,” he said. “I . . .” 

She turned on him with a face 
contorted in anger. “Shut up,” she 
hissed. “Just follow me.” She tip- 
toed into the guard room, beckon- 
ing him to follow. 

“But the soldiers — ” he whisp- 
ered. 

They were all asleep, sitting 
stolidly in their chairs. Amazed, he 
held his breath as he brushed past 
them and through the far door. 

The first faint grey light of dawn 
lay like a dust powdered on the 
black velvet night. He could see 
the girl’s dim figure as she flitted 
ahead of him through the street. 
Whirling suddenly, she grabbed his 
arm and pulled him into a doorway. 
To his amazement, she ki.ssed him. 
For the first time his new life be- 
gan to look as if it might be bear- 
able after all. 

When she let go he grabbed her 
and started to kiss her again, but 
she slapped him so hard he lost his 
balance in the narrow doorway and 
fell out into the street. 

“Mind your manners,” she said. 
“Come on.” 

Poor girl, he had forgotten she 
was crazy. 

The twelve men stood outside 
the arena. Their leader, a burly red- 
headed man, drew his sword from 
its scabbard at his side and used 
the tip of it to draw a map on the 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



27 



ground. 

“Listen,” he said. “This is where 
we are now. Just inside that door 
there’s the guardroom where the 
soldiers are. There should be four 
of them and perhaps an arena ser- 
vant or two. Got that? You eight 
men are going to take care of the 
soldiers and anybody else in there. 
Silently, remember. You three will 
come with me through the inside 
door into the passageway under the 
stands. There’s a man in one of the 
cells. He’s a little skinny looking 
fellow, but don’t take any chances 
with him. Kill him right away. All 
right?” 

“All right, Rogar.” 

“No blunders now. The princess 
wants this man dead.” 

“All right, Rogar.” 

“And so do I, which is more im- 
portant. Let’s go.” 

They burst through the door, 
and the soldiers, waking from their 
drugged sleep didn’t even have 
time to realize they were dying be- 
fore they were dead. Rogar and his 
three followers rushed into the 
passageway. The door to Turk’s 
cell swung idly open. 

The red-beaded man fell back 
one step and leaned against the 
wall. “Maybe the princess was 
right. Maybe Turk . . .” 

“What did you say, sir?” 
“Nothing,” he yelled in a fur- 
ious voice. “Spread out and search 



this place. I didn’t say anything.” 
His face was pale beneath his flam- 
ing hair. 

The arena was empty. 

“Rogar,” said one of his men. 
“Remember when we were coming 
here, remember that pair of lovers 
in the doorway? I bet . . .” 

“By all the gods!” tie slammed 
his huge fist against the door. “Of 
course. But who was the woman?” 
He strode back and forth across 
the littered guardroom. “All right,” 
he said finally. “You men might as 
well go home: I won't need you any 
more for today.” He flung a bag of 
coins to them. “You will be better 
repaid when the princess comes to 
her rightful throne.” 

The men chuckled. They knew 
who would rule Lan when that hap- 
pened. Rogar’s swordsmen would 
have rewarding work to do. 

“It’s morning. Lord Governor.” 

“I’m awake, Phindus. I was 
thinking.” 

“Pleasant thoughts, I trust. Lord 
Governor.” 

“This is the day we burn what’s- 
his-name. That hero of your peo- 
ple. Tark! That’s him! If you Lan- 
aii had to pick a hero, why did you 
pick such a puny one?” The 
governor laughed. “He didn’t even 
have the guts to kill that fool Sopus 
when he had him down.” 

“‘Yes, sir. Your bath is drawn.” 




28 



UNIVERSE 



“Good. Did any messages come 
while I was asleep?” 

The servant carefully kept the 
jubilation from his face and voice. 
“Only one, Lord Governor. The 
prisoner in the arena killed his four 
guards last night and escaped. Is 
the water hot enough for you, sir?” 
“Tark escaped? Escaped? Tark?” 
Water splashed. 

“Yes, Lord Governor. Tark the 
Liberator escaped. He has come 
back to kick you and all your peo- 
ple off our planet. Goodbye, sir.” 
He carefully held the governor’s 
head under water until the bubbles 
stopped coming up. Then he rolled 
down his sleeves and walked with 
slow dignity from the palace. 

And gradually the rumor spread. 

“Tark killed a dozen soldiers 
and escaped from the arena.” 

“Tark tore the iron bars from his 
cell door and killed a platoon of 
Mauaii troops.” 

“Did you hear what Tark did? 
He killed every soldier in the arena 
with his bare hands.” 

“And then he went and killed the 
governor.” 

“Tark is driving the Mauaii from 
Lan!” 

“Tark the Liberatorl” 

“Please,” whined Tark, “can’t 
you go a little slower? My feet 
hurt.” He had never walked so far 



or so fast in his life. The city 
stretched out across the plains far 
below them. “Are you still mad be- 
cause I told you I thought you 
were crazy?” 

The girl glared back at him. 

“I couldn’t help it,” he said. “I 
was scared and I wasn’t thinking 
clearly. When I saw you making 
faces at me . . .” Aggrieved, he 
burst out with a whining shout: 
“What else could I think? You 
don’t know how it feels to be taken 
out to die!” He scurried along the 
trail after her. “And I’m sorry I 
kissed you. I thought . . .” 

She turned and faced him. 
“What did you think?” 

He stepped back a pace, sud- 
denly frightened by the vehemence 
with which she spoke. “I don’t 
know what I thought. I guess . . . 
I guess I didn’t think of anything 
. . . It was just that I realized I 
was going to die and that you were 
kissing me and . . .it was pleasant, 
that’s all.” He scraped at the dusty 
trail with his foot. “I didn’t know 
you were just trying to keep those 
people from paying attention to me. 
I just thought how I liked it. I 
hardly ever get to kiss a pretty 
girl . . . Only my landlady when I 
can’t pay the rent on time.” He 
kicked a pebble. “She’s fat.” 

To his surprise the girl was smil- 
ing. 

“Come on,” she said.“ We’ve got 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



29 



to get to the cave by night. There’s 
a lot you have to learn.” 

“About what?” 

“About everything. About the 
political situation here on Lan. 
About your great grandfather. 
About yourself.” She turned and 
started up the trail again. “About 
women,” she said, but he didn’t 
hear her. 

He hurried to keep up with her. 
“I don’t even know your name,” he 
said. 

“You don’t need to know it,” 
she shouted back over her shoulder. 
“You didn’t wonder about it when 
you thought I was crazy.” 

“I guess I shouldn’t have told 
you about that,” said Tark, “but I 
have different thoughts about you 
now. I’d like to know who I’m 
thinking about when I think about 
you.” He smiled at her. “And I 
can’t think of an}'thing else.” 
“You’re learning fast,” she said. 
“What?” 

“Never mind. My name is Nia- 
mala.” 

“I’m pleased to meet you.” 

“I should think you would be. 
You’d be three quarters fried right 
now if you hadn’t.” 

“Don’t think I’m not grateful. 
That’s just something people say 
when they’re introduced.” 

She groaned softly. “Are you al- 
ways so conventional?” 

“I’m a shoemaker,” he said. 



“Not any more, you aren’t. 
You’re Tark the Liberator now.” 
He had forgotten about that. 
“Do I have to be? Can’t I just 
wait where ever it is we’re going 
until this nonsense all blows over?” 
Furious, the good mood of the 
past few minutes forgotten, she 
whirled around toward him. “Non- 
sense? What nonsense? Do you 
still think the Mauaii are fit to rule 
this planet? Do you think any gov- 
ernment that doesn’t come from 
the wishes of the people can be a 
just one? And do you think any 
man can stand by and let tyranny 
walk the same streets he lives on? 
Open your eyes! Didn’t you ever 
hear that sweet word, democracy?” 
He was embarassed by her out- 
burst. It didn’t matter to Tark who 
ruled Lan as long as he was let 
alone in safe obscurity. More than 
anything else, he wanted to return 
to his old life. 

She turned forward again and be- 
gan to walk swiftly away, leaving 
him to follow her as best he could. 
“I’m not a politican,” he muttered 
sullenly to himself, “And I’m not 
a hero and I’m not a fool.’^ He 
glared angrily at the back of her 
head. 

It would have been different if 
he had really been taken over by 
his great-grandfather’s spirit, but 
he knew that nobody on Lan could 
believe that any more, not after 




30 



UNIVERSE 



seeing his terror in the arena yes- 
terday, not after seeing how he had 
dropped his weapons from sheer 
clumsiness and fright. He had done 
everything wrong: he just wasn’t 
going to try any more. He was 
ready to give up. 

“I tell you, I was there. I saw it. 
They offered him the choice of an 
easy death or a hard death, and he 
simply stood there, too proud to 
speak. And then when the herald 
brought him the poison he refused 
to even look at it. I’ve never seen 
such dignity in the face of death.” 

“He fought his way through the 
palace guards and killed the gov- 
ernor.” 

“Fought his way? The guards 
ran in terror when they saw him 
coming.” 

“Nobody knows where he is 
now.” 

“He’s gathering an army. He’s 
preparing a revolution.” 

“We’ll be free again.” 

“Look! Is that a Mauaii soldier 
coming toward us?” 

“Yes. A corporal. Look at him 
scowl.” 

“Lend me your knife. Thank 
you.” 

“Good morning, corporal.” 

“Should we bury him or just 
leave the body here in the street?” 

“Princess, I don’t know how he 



did it. When we got there the sol- 
diers were sitting around their 
table, sound asleep. Their wine had 
been drugged. Tark was gone from 
his cell.” 

“All right, Rogar. This means 
simply that we have to change our 
estimate of Tark. He’s no longer 
a mere pawn in our plans.” She 
drummed her fingers idly on the 
arm of her chair. 

“The things he’s done in the last 
two days . . .well, you might as 
well admit that a shoemaker could- 
n’t have done them.” She held up 
one hand. “Let me finish, Rogar. 
I think this Tark can be as useful 
to us as his great grandfather was: 
I think he may be able to drive the 
Mauaii from Lan. Rogar, despite 
your fine scorn for my female sup- 
erstition, I feel that there may be 
something to this belief that the 
spirit of the Liberator has taken 
over this man’s body.” 

“I live only to carry out your or- 
ders, Princess.” He bowed so low 
she could not see the twisted smile 
on his face. “Perhaps we have gre- 
viously understimated this man by 
trying to use him merely as a sym- 
bol, someone we could have killed 
in order to profit by his death. Per- 
haps the Liberator has returned. 
Perhaps. But remember this. Prin- 
cess. The Liberator drove the 
Mauaii from Lan, but he did not 
intend to restore your dynasty to 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



31 



the throne. No — he was about to 
call for a return to democracy. 
There are a number of sealed boxes 
of papers in the archive-room, 
Princess; I recommend you look 
through them some time. I haven’t 
read them all myself, but I do 
know this — your own great-grand- 
father had the first Tark killed in 
this very house. The bones are 
buried under the archive room.” 
“How was he killed, Rogar? I 
thought he was invincible.” 

“I don’t know. There’s a lot 
about those days of seventy five 
years ago that I don’t understand. 
But this Tark who’s alive today: 
we must find him. That’s of first 
importance. If it turns out that he 
will fight for the return of the dy- 
nasty to the throne, all well and 
good. But if he won’t swear his al- 
legiance to you, Princess . . .” He 
drew his knife. “We have room for 
more bones in that grave.” 

“Rogar,” she said, “I believe you 
like to kill.” 

He smiled. “In your service. 
Princess.” 

“All right,” she said. “It may be 
necessary to kill this Tark. In any 
event, it is necessary to find him 
and bring him here. Don’t under- 
estimate him again, • Rogar. Use 
every man at your command.” 

The general looked at the wor- 
ried group around the table. “It is 



necessary to find this man and 
bring him here,” he said. “It seems 
the late governor underestimated 
him. I don’t propose to duplicate 
his mistake: I shall use every man 
at my command. This Tark is the 
most important person on Lan. My 
whole army is ordered to find him 
and capture him. When we get him 
here he will be questioned and 
then executed.” 

“Your pardon. General,” said 
one of the civilians, “but why is it 
necessary to question him? I un- 
derstand he is a dangerous man, a 
killer. Wouldn’t it be best to exe- 
cute him as soon as he is taken? 
After all, a man who can do what 
he did ... I fear this man, Gen- 
eral.” 

“And so do I, my Lord. But the 
people of Lan say he is their lead- 
er. Now, there is this to consider: 
there is a vast and surprisingly 
well-organized underground move- 
ment here on this planet. Don’t 
smile — I know them to be danger- 
ous. But the situation isn’t clear 
even to my secret police; this un- 
derground seems to be split into 
rival groups, though it hardly 
seems possible. Tark, when we cap- 
ture him, can clear up this matter 
for us, and I’m sure he will, when 
we apply the proper persuasion. It 
is important that we clean up this 
underground before they become 
too bold. Since this Tark murder- 




32 



UNIVERSE 



ed the governor this morning over 
forty of my soldiers have been cut 
down in the streets.” 

The civilians looked grave. “Why 
wasn’t he killed years ago?” one of 
them asked. 

“Because the governor didn’t 
know about him. For years this 
Tark pretended to be nothing but 
a shoemaker. Waiting with diabol- 
ical cleverness for the time to 
strike, he sat there in his shop and 
pretended to be just another weak 
Lanaian fool. Gentlemen, we must 
remember that these Lanaii are not 
the weaklings we have taken them 
for. Frankly, I consider the situa- 
tion here on Lan to have grown to 
alarming proportions, and it all 
hinges around Tark. There is a be- 
lief here on this planet that Tark 
is the reincarnation of one of their 
heroes of the past, a certain thug 
named Tark the Liberator — I 
hardly need remind you what that 
means. Seventy five years ago we 
were forced off this planet by an 
armed uprising of the people led by 
this old Tark.” He glared around 
the table at them. “We must kill 
this man before we are put into 
danger again.” 

Like all Mauaii, he tended to 
shout when he was frightened. He 
shouted now. “We can’t expect 
reinforcements from our home 
planet of Ter, not until certain 
. . . conditions . . . there are reciti- 



fied. I’m not authorized to explain 
myself more fully at his time. But 
gentlemen, remember this: we must 
capture Tark, we must capture him 
swiftly, we must force his informa- 
tion from him, and we must put 
him to death.” 

He waited until the civilians had 
all -filed from the room, and then 
he sank into his seat. “If we can,” 
he muttered. Fear of the Liberator 
still throbbed in a hidden corner of 
every Mauaii heart, and it began 
to look as if the belief that the Lib- 
erator had returned in this new 
body might not be so foolish after 
all. He flipped through the sheaf of 
morning reports. They told him of 
ambush and sabotage against the 
Mauaii rulers of Lan. He began to 
realize how skilfully Tark had plan- 
ned for this day. It was only occa- 
sional raiding now, but it would 
soon grow into open revolution un- 
less Tark were captured. 

“Lieutenant, can I wear full ar- 
mor on guard duty this evening?” 
“You know the uniform of the 
day, soldier. Light armor only.” 
“Yes, sir. But . . 

“But what?” 

“Sir, I’m afraid I’ll need full ar- 
mor. Three of the men in my pla- 
toon were killed today.” 

“Three? I was given only two 
names on the list.” 

“The other one was just now, sir. 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



33 



Tark came into the barracks when 
nobody was looking and strangled 
the Master-at-Arms. We found his 
body when we came back from 
chow.” 

“Tark!” 

“Yes, sir. Can I wear full ar- 
mor?” 

“All right, soldier. I suppose so.” 

“Sir?” 

“What is it?” 

“Do you think we’ll ever see Ter 
again?” 

“I just can’t go any further,” he 
whimpered. “Do you realize I 
haven’t eaten anything in two 
days?” 

She ignored him and kept on up 
the steep path. 

Tark miserably followed her. 
Would he ever see his little cob- 
bler’s shop again? The setting sun 
cast its long shadow across the 
foothills, and he was able to look 
back far into the distance and see 
the city they had left, .with the 
streets radiating from the central 
square. He was also able to see the 
huge statue of Tark the Liberator 
standing in the square, and the 
sight made him feel even more 
weak and useless than before. He 
couldn’t come up to his great 
grandfather’s standards no matter 
how hard he tried, so there was no 
sense in trying any more. He glared 
at the girl with a feeling close to 



hatred: he hated every Lanaian 
right now, everyone who had forced 
him into this sudden unbelieved 
and unwanted prominence as a 
leader of his people. No. He didn’t 
owe them anything. He didn’t want 
freedom or glory or anything else 
except obscurity and a good meal. 

And in some corner of his mind 
he told himself that the Mauaii 
would let him alone if they only 
knew how he felt. 

Misery, fear, and self-pity: the 
seeds of betrayal grew in Tark’s 
brain. 

The girl stopped. “Here we are,” 
she said. Putting a small whistle to 
her mouth, she blew three times. 
Etched darkly against the skyline, 
a man appeared on the ridge oppo- 
site them and waved his arm. “All 
clear,” she said, “come on.” He fol- 
lowed her as she pushed off the 
path into the thick trees. Down into 
a gully, up the other side, across a 
stream, panting up the side of the 
ridge, Tark went after her. 

“Phindus,” she cried, as she 
came up to the man who had 
waved. “What are you doing here?” 

“Niamala!” 

Tark felt a deep and unexpected 
pang of jealousy as he saw her 
throw her arms around the man. “I 
didn’t expect to see you here,” she 
said, “but I’m glad you are. We’ve 
got to act fast. Are the others in- 
side?” 




34 



UNIVERSE 



“We’re all here,” he said. “Come 
on. Who’s this you brought?” 

She looked back proudly. “It‘s 
Tark himself.” 

“Tark! ” Phindus went sliding 
down the hill to where Tark was 
sullenly standing. “Tark!” He 
grabbed him by the hand and 
pumped it up and down wildly. “I 
heard about how you escaped from 
the arena last night. Wonderful!” 
He began to pull him uphill. “I was 
the governor’s servant, Tark. 
Tark — I can’t believe it’s you at 
last! When I heard how you killed 
the four soldiers guarding you 
I knew the time had come. I drown- 
ed the governor in his own bath- 
tub and came up here.” He laughed 
delightedly. “We’ve been getting 
reports from the city all day. 
“They think you killed him. It’s 
wonderful, Tark, the Mauaii are 
getting scared. Now that you’re 
here we can really begin to work on 
them. Tark, Tark, the underground 
has waited seventy five years for 
this day, waiting for you to come 
back.” 

Niamala smiled fondly at him. 
“Phindus,” she said, “don’t you 
ever stop talking?” 

He laughed again. “If you know 
how I had to keep silent as that 
governor’s servant you’d realize 
what a relief it is now to be able 
to open my mouth as a freeman. 
And Tark! We’ve got Tark with 



us!” He was almost dancing with 
joy as he pushed aside a clump of 
bushes. 

“What’s this about killing the 
guards?” Tark asked. The sight of 
Phindus’ joy made him angry, and 
he didn’t know why: he’d never 

been jealous before. “We didn’t 
kill any guards.” 

“We? Through here. Watch out 
for the thorns.” 

“Niamala and I. She gave them 
something in their wine to put 
them to sleep, but they were all 
right when we left.” 

“I saw some of Rogar’s men 
heading for the arena,” she said. 
“Tark and I . . .hid from them . . . 
They must have done it.” 

Tark was pleased to see her mo- 
mentary embarrassment: at least 
he had kissed her, even if he had 
been slapped. “We pretended to be 
lovers,” he told Phindus. and he 
was pleased to see Niamala blush. 

“Well,” she said angrily, “we all 
have to make sacrifices if we want 
to be free.” 

“Here we are,” said Phindus. 
“Watch your head.” 

It was a mere crack in the lime- 
stone rocks, one crack among thou- 
sands on the mountainside. Just 
wide enough to admit one man at a 
time, it was admirably situated for 
defense. A young man was on guard 
inside, and Tark was surprised to 
see the joy in his eyes as he saw 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



3S 



them come in. The sentry turned 
and shouted into the echoing dark- 
ness of the vast cavern that opened 
up behind him. 

“She’s brought him! Turk’s here!” 

Tark stepped back in astonish- 
ment as the cave lit up: he had 
never seen electric lights before. 

“Surprised?” asked Phindus, 
“One of the Mauaii technicians es- 
caped and set this up for us. It’s 
just one of the things those people 
are keeping from us. But now that 
you’re here that’s going to be 
changed.” 

Tark couldn’t bring himself to be 
friendly to the man. He merely 
grunted. This constant harping on 
his importance and usefulness was 
getting on his nerves. “Do you 
have something to eat?” he asked. 
“I’m hungry.” 

Phindus looked downcast. “No- 
body thought of bringing food up 
here. We can send for some, 
though, and it’ll be here by morn- 
ing.” He slapped Tark on the back. 
“But we’ve got news that’ll make 
you so happy you won’t want to 
bother with eating. The people are 
rising up all over Lan: all they 

were waiting for was the Libera- 
tor’s return. Tark, you’ve got the 
Mauaii scared.” 

“I haven’t eaten for two daj^s,” 
Tark said. 

The general threw dovm his 



napkin. He wasn’t hungry. None of 
the dignitaries around the table 
had made more than a pretence 
of eating. Who could be sure that 
Tark or one of the his men hadn’t 
sneaked into the kitchen and poi- 
soned the food? Everyone knew 
how subtle and dangerous he was. 
Less than an hour ago three Mauaii 
nobles, on their way to this very 
banquet, had been cut down in the 
street by a man dressed to look like 
a sailor: Tark, no doubt. The man, 
a huge fellow, had swaggered up to 
the nobles, rolling from side to side 
as if he were drunk, had grabbed 
all three of them, and cut their 
throats. The fools of the police who 
had chased him reported that he 
had taken flight on a ship. This 
was nonsense, of course: hadn’t 

Tark, not half an hour later, been 
seen (this time disguised as a 
woodchopper) crushing the skull of 
a Mauaii soldier? 

They saw Tark behind every 
curtain, behind every tree, behind 
every knife. The bitter and half- 
repressed memory of their defeat 
of seventy five years before had 
driven the Mauaii to excesses of 
cruelty, and this cruelty led them 
to fear vengeance. They would 
fight bravely to save their necks 
and their domination over the peo- 
ple of Lan, but how could they 
fight this avenger who struck them 
down without warning in a hundred 




UNIVERSE 



36 

different fornjs — how, for that mat- 
ter, could they fight the whole 
planet if the whole people were to 
rise against them? 

No, they weren’t hungry. 

“I can’t eat, Rogar. I just can’t. 
I’m too worried. Here we are at a 
crucial moment in history and we 
can’t find the most important man 
in it anywhere. If we have Tark on 
our side we can’t lose. If we find 
he’s against us and we’re able to 
kill him, we can blame his death on 
the Mauaii and again we can’t lose. 
But without Tark this rebellion 
.will just fizzle out. Rogar, the dy- 
nasty can’t wait another seventy 
five years for his return. Why 
can’t you catch him, Rogar? Ac- 
cording to the reports I get he’s out 
in the city someplace.” 

“The problem is to find him, 
Princess. He struck first in the 
governor’s palace when he drowned 
the governor; then he stabbed a 
corporal in a street on the other 
side of town; then he ambushed 
two soldiers down by the main 
square; then he killed another sol- 
dier in the army barracks . . . you 
see? He keeps moving. He’s a cle- 
ver man. Princess. But I have all 
my men out looking for him. We’ll 
have him by dawn, I promise you.” 

“Listen, what say after supper 
we get some of the boys together 
and go hunt us up a couple of 



Mauaii soldiers? We can borrow 
your wife’s carving knife for the 
first one, and after that we’ll have 
a sword.” 

“I don’t see why not. I’ve always 
wanted to take a crack at one of 
those guys. I bear Park’s been 
knocking them off all day. I only 
hope he left some for us.” 

“Let’s go now. Who wants to eat 
on a day like this?” 

Full of self-pity, Tark sat at 
the head of the conference table 
and watched the room fill up with 
people. He had never gone so long 
without food, and now the nervous 
reaction from the terror he had un- 
dergone, comibined with the exhaus- 
tion of the day-long climb, made 
him touchy and irritable. Why were 
they taking advantage of him? He 
glared at Phindus and Niamala, 
who were sitting happily together 
on the other side of the room. Why 
couldn’t they simply leave him 
alone? He saw her smile at Phin- 
d^s, and he knew he hated them; 
he hated them all. And especially 
he hated her. 

Poor Tark, he had never been in 
love before. 

His sandals had been ruined by 
the climb, and he had no tools to 
repair them, but he turned them 
over and over in his hands, apprais- 
ing them with an expert eye. This 
return to his old trade helped calm 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



37 



him somewhat, but nevertheless he 
jumped slightly when someone be- 
side him stood up and began to 
speak. 

“I assume we’re all here. Well, 
Tark is here too.” A wave of ap- 
plause burst over him, and he hur- 
ried to get his sandals back on his 
feet. 

“This is the day we’ve all been 
waiting for. Tomorrow we strike at 
the Mauaii, and with Tark on our 
side, we can’t lose.” He held up 
his hand to stop the cheering. “Nia- 
mala brought him to us, so I’m 
going to let Niamala speak.” 

Tark wasn’t impressed. He had 
been cheered before, and by a lot 
more people, and what had it got 
him? Nearly killed, that’s what. 
He sulked. He was unhappy, hurt, 
and angry. 

The girl was on her feet. “As 
you know,” she said, “I was em- 
ployed as an arena servant. This 
was always a useful position, since 
I was able to overhear all the sol- 
dier gossip of the guards, and oc- 
casionally help a prisoner, but we 
never knew how useful it would be. 
Well! Our first effort to free Tark 
failed: one of our girls tried to 
bribe one of the soldiers, but she 
wasn’t able to. We knew that Tark 
was to fight Sopus, and we knew 
that Sopus would be fully armed 
and protected, while Tark would be 
given only symbolic weapO'ns. We 



feared that even Tark wouldn’t be 
able to overcome these odds, so I 
was supplied with a drug to give 
to the soldier.” She laughed lightly. 
“I brought Sopus a goblet of wine 
with some of the drug in it, and I 
tried to let Tark know I was help- 
ing him: I couldn’t talk while So- 
pus was there, so I made faces. He 
thought I was crazy.” 

Why did she have to bring that 
up? He hated her all the more. 

“.As it turned out, of course, 
Tark won without any of our help 
— we might have known he would. 
The drug knocked Sopus out, but 
not until the fight was over. 
Everybody thought he had faint- 
ed as a result of being stripped of 
bis rank and Mauaii citizenship. 
Well! That night I managed to put 
some of the drug Jn the wine of the 
four guards who were watching 
Tark, and we slipped out as soon 
as thej^ were unconscious.” She 
turned to Phindus. “Phindus tells 
me they were killed later on. As we 
left the arena we saw Rogar with a 
crowd of his killers approaching. 
They must have done it.” 

Tark was surprised at the ex- 
citement this information caused. 
“Rogar!” someone said. “Then 
the princess must be in this, too. 
We have to work fast, or we’ll lose 
everything.” 

“Yes,” she said. “We have to 
fight both the Mauaii and Rogar’s 




UNIVERSE 



38 

supporters: he’s really the power 
behind the princess. We ...” She 
broke off as a messenger handed 
her a note. She glanced at it. 
“Ramfis is ready to speak to us,” 
she said, and there was a pleased 
murmer from the crowd. “Ram- 
fis is our historian,” she told Tark. 
“When yet a boy he fought along 
side of your great-grandfather. 

An old man was walking wearily 
to the head of the table, and when 
he looked at Tark, Tark felt for a 
moment that he had seen the eyes 
of wisdom and truth, but he brush- 
ed the feeling aside angrily; he was 
determined to sulk. There was no 
sense in getting mystical about 
things. 

He was surprised to find that 
the old man stopped in front of 
him and was staring intently. “It 
is true,” Ramfis said. Then, turn- 
ing to the eager crowd that filled 
the room, he said it again. “It is 
true. I fought beside the Liberator, 
and I knew him well. I have looked 
into this man’s eyes and I have 
seen the Liberator’s spirit in them.” 
He said it quietly, almost as if it 
were the most commonplace bit of 
information. “Tark the Liberator 
has come back to us.” And then, 
surprisingly, he turned back again 
to Tark and shook his arm lightly. 
“It is true,” he whispered. “Re- 
member that. The Liberator’s spirit 
is in you.” 



Tark slumped in his seat, dis- 
gusted; he knew how much that in- 
formation was worth. 

This gang of lunatics might be 
fooled by this old fake, but Tark 
wasn't. What right had they to 
bring him up here? He folded his 
arms and leaned back in the seat. 
If they expected him to help them 
they were mistaken. The Libera- 
tor’s spirit! Was everybody on the 
planet blind? Couldn’t they see 
that he was >ust a plain man? A 
man who was hungry and tired and 
nervous? All right, he thought. I’ll 
get away from these fools as soon 
as I can and go back to the city. 
He glared at Niamala and Phindus, 
who were listening intently to the 
old historian. 

“ . . . and 'when the people of 
Lan rallied around Tark, the Lib- 
erator what could the Mauaii do to 
withstand them? What can an oc- 
cupying army of tyrants do against 
a whole planet of men who are 
fighting to be free? I was there. I 
fought. There were no great battles, 
only a knife in the public square, a 
scuffle in the alley. When the 
Mauaii shut themselves up in their 
fortresses and camps, how could 
they rule? When they came out, 
how could they live? It was not 
simply Tark, it was the whole 
world of Lan that defeated them, 
sent them fleeing to their space 
ships. And so Lan was free again.” 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



The audience sat in silence. 

“But Lan failed to stay free. We 
know why. We are not a warrior 
people, and we had no knowledge of 
what revolution meant. Lan is a 
world without history. Unlike Ter, 
the world of the Mauaii, we have 
always been one people, one poli- 
tical unit. On Ter there have been 
numbers of nations, each fighting 
against the other, and this contin- 
ual lunatic battling trained them 
in the tactics of power. On Lan, 
however, after our earliest kings 
had subdued the barbarian tribes 
of the islands, there had been no 
fighting until the Mauaii came. 
The kings, themselves, had grad- 
ually given way to the Lanaian 
democracy, and we were a world 
at peace.” 

Tark slumped in his chair. He 
yawned. Would it be possible for 
him to escape from here tonight? 

“And then the Mauaii came, and 
after years of oppression, Tark the 
Liberator rallied the people of 
Lan and the Mauaii fled in terror. 
Then our trouljles began. The 
kings, the former rulers of Lan, 
having seen the Mauaii tyranny, 
thought it would be possible to re- 
store themselves to the empty 
throne and rule again. You know 
the result. When the Mauaii came 
back they found us a people divid- 
ed, and they put a cruel yoke on 
our backs. And they found us with- 



39 

out our leader.” His voice sank. 
“Tark, my friend Tark, had dis- 
appeared: he has never been seen 
since. But gradually the belief 
grew up among us that he would 
come back in the hour of our need, 
that his spirit, after the great cycle 
of seventy five years had passed, 
would re-enter the body of his de- 
scendant. I need hardly remind you 
how we watched over this man 
here,” he pointed at Tark, “how we 
planned for this day. And I have 
seen Tark’s spirit in his descend- 
ants eyes.” 

The general paced eagerly up 
and down the huge room. His aides 
clustered around him. “All right, 
gentlemen,” he said. “I want two 
regiments ready to move out in 
half an hour. One of my scouts has 
just brought word that he’s located 
the main headquarters of the un- 
derground: they’ve had messengers 
coming up from the city all day, 
and he managed to follow one. I 
hardly need remind you what this 
means. Once we capture the heads 
of this movement, the rest will 
crumble away. We might even get 
Tark! I want you to give orders to 
kill him on sight: we no longer 
need information from him. Ten 
thousand shofars to the man who 
cuts his throat. Light armor, gentle- 
men, we have some climbing to do. 
They’re in a limestone cavern up 




UNIVERSE 



40 

in the hills.” 

“But two days ago Tark himself 
took a hand. He led a crowd into 
the central square and began putt- 
ing pressure on the Mauaii: the 
first movement of the revolution 
was under way. We knew then that 
the Liberator had returned. He let 
himself be captured. That puzzled 
us at first but his capture roused 
the people of Lan as no other act 
could and his victory in the arena 
— which we needlessly tried to 
make certain of by drugging So- 
pus — was the spur to any laggards 
who might be left. Niamala help- 
ed Tark escape last night and bro- 
ught him to us. On the way, they 
passed Rogar and a gang of his 
men heading for the arena . . .” 

But at this point, worn out, 
Tark fell asleep: he had heard en- 
ough nonsense for the evening. 

Gradually the night wore on. 
The two moons of Lan moved slow- 
ly across the sky, tiny gems of 
brilliance. Ter, the green planet, 
sank on the western horizon. An oc- 
casional Mauaii, out late and 
alone, paid for his stupidity with 
his life. A long file of soldiers 
slowly moved up the foothills to- 
ward a cave in the limestone cliffs. 

When Tark woke up he thought 
he was sick. There was a dull 
throbbing pain in his belly and his 



legs were sore Snd aching. But he 
couldn’t afford to be sick: he .had 
a lot of work to finish, at least 
thirty pair of shoes were piled up 
in the "back of his shop. But where 
was he? His own bed was never 
this soft. And then he recognized 
the pain as hunger, the ache as 
weariness from yesterday’s climb. 

Tears of self-pity sprang to his 
eyes. Nobody had ever been treated 
so badly. .Nobody had ever gone 
without food for so long. A streak 
of light showed him where the door 
was. The Mauaii would forgive 
him. the Mauaii would know he 
wasn’t against them if he could 
only go to the city and give himself 
up to them. They would smile at 
him and feed him and let him go 
back to his shop if there was any- 
thing left of it after this much time 
without protection. See? he would 
say, I’m not against you. I’m not 
against anybody. And they’re a lot 
of people in a cave up there who 
are . . . 

The Mauaii wouldn’t be too hard 
on these poor fools, not if they 
caught them all. He got out of bed, 
fumbled for his sandals, and went 
slowly to the door. New clothes 
lay on a chair just inside it. 
He put them on and opened the 
door a crack. Nobody. Stepping in- 
to the hall, he blinked against the 
unfamiliar brightness of the elec- 
tric lights. What had they said? — 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



something about a Mauaii techni- 
cian who escaped and set them up. 
It was all very mysterious, but 
when you’re hungry you don’t think 
about much except the state of 
your stomach. The large room 
where they had brought him first 
was at the end of the hall. He cross- 
ed it, his sandals hissing softly as 
he shuffled on the limestone floor. 

He felt a sudden explosion of 
fright in his chest when the sentry 
at the entrance of the cave snapped 
to attention: he hadn’t thought 
about him, and the man’s motion 
brought all his old terror back into 
being. Even in the partial darkness 
of the cave mouth he could see the 
sentry’s eyes glitter with excite- 
ment. “Tark,” the sentry — he was 
hardly more than a boy — said, “is 
it true you’re going to lead us 
against the Mauaii tomorrow?” 

Tark was ashamed of himself for 
a moment. “Partly true,” he said. 
He pushed by the sentry. “I’m 
going out to look around.” He 
started down the ridge, and then, 
driven by emotions he couldn’t 
analyze, he returned to the cave. 
“Why don’t you have any food up 
here?” he asked. 

The boy grinned. “All your 
fault,” he said. “When you started 
that mob going the other day we 
knew the time was near when we’d 
come down from here to help you, 
so we moved all our supplies into 



41 

the city. Getting rid of the Mauaii 
is more important than eating for a 
day or so.” 

“Um,” said Tark, and started off 
into the darkness. He had a long 
walk in front of him. It was too bad 
a boy like that had to be caught 
along with the others, but that was 
the way things were. It wasn’t his 
fault. It was the fault of those 
other people who stirred up all this 
trouble: that crazy old historian, 
Ramfis; people like him. Phindus. 
All the others . . . Niamala. He 
didn’t want to think about her. 

So he thought of nothing else as 
he slid down the hill. He lost the 
trail once, and wandered for almost 
an hour before he came back to it 
again. That was why the Mauaii 
didn’t find him. 

It was dawn when he reached 
the city, and he hurried toward his 
room. Maybe bis landlady would 
have breakfast ready. Already, at 
this early hour, the streets were 
full of people. He wondered why. 
As he passed a bakery shop and 
smelled the fresh bread cooking, 
he wondered if he would faint from 
starvation before he got home. He 
began to run as he neared the fam- 
iliar street. That was why Rogar 
found him. 

“Shoemaker! Wait a minute.” A 
hand grabbed his arm. 

He recognized the red-headed 
man who had stirred up the crowd, 




42 



UNIVERSE 



and he tried to shake himself free. 
“You aren’t getting me into any 
more trouble,” he yelled. “I’m 
going home.” 

“Of course you are. Just get in- 
to the cart here and my men will 
drive you.” 

Tark looked at the five grinning 
fighters who stood around him, 
their hands on the hilts of their 
swords. 

“Don’t make any mistake about 
it,” Rogar said. “My men will kill 
you the instant you make a false 
move.” 

“Doesn’t anybody understand,” 
Tark whined, “all I want to do is 
go home and be left in peace. 
Everybody picks on me. Everybody 
acts as if I were some sort of hero. 
Look at me,” he yelled. “Do I look 
like a hero? Do I look like the 
kind of man who gives a damn who 
rules Lan? Why do you think I 
left your cave? And now 3mu come 
with your killers to drag me back. 
It isn’t fair.” 

“Get in the cart,” Rogar said. 
“You’re not fooling auj'bodj^ with 
that innocent act. Not after yester- 
day. We’ve been looking for you, 
Tark, and we’ve been all over the 
city, and everywhere we’ve been 
we’ve found dead Mauaii. Tark, 
you’re the most effective killer on 
Lan, and we’re not going to take 
any chances with you. Get in the 
cart or we’ll cut you down.” 



Tark got into the cart. Was 
ever}':body crazy? 

“We need you, Tark. We’ll pay 
you well. Anything you want. Any- 
thing. You can be governor of any 
province on Lan. All we want you 
to do is to stop this aimless fight- 
ing against the Mauaii and start 
fighting to more purpose: fight to 
restore the princess to the throne 
of Lan.” 

“Princess? Niamala ... is she a 
princess?” He wasn’t surprised. 
Hadn’t somebody mentioned the 
princess back in the cave? The 
girl's features rose in front of bis 
eyes and he tried to hate her. 

“Niamala?” Rogar looked at him 
narrowly. “Who’s Niamala? I’m 
talking about the princess of the 
great dynasty of the House of 
Lan.” 

“Oh,” said Tark. It didn’t seem 
important. He couldn’t think of 
an3dhing but the girl. Creaking, the 
cart moved through the narrow 
streets. “Aren’t you from Nia- 
mala?” he asked finally. “This isn’t 
the way to the cave.” 

Rogar didn’t answer. He had no 
idea of what Tark was talking 
about, and that worried him. 
What was Tark trying to do? He 
eyed him closely as the3^ sat side 
by side in the cart: you’d never 
think such a puny looking little 
man could have done everything 
Tark had carried off in the last 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



43 



two days. There was something un- 
natural about it. And he wasn’t 
even carrying a weapon. It was that 
incomprehensible gap between 
Tark’s meek appearance and his- 
bloody actions that sent the chills 
up and down Rogar’s spine as he 
sat in the early morning sunlight. 

Tark was afraid, too; but, un- 
like Rogar, he admitted his fear 
to himself. He didn’t know who 
these people were, but they were 
obviously not from the cave — 
Niamala and her friends hadn’t 
threatened him with death every 
time he opened his mouth. Nor 
were thej^ Mauaii, that was obvious 
from the way the cart hugged the 
side streets and from the way the 
red-headed man had urged him to 
continue his fight (what fight? 
Tark wondered) against them. 
Whoever they were, they weren’t 
friends of his: that much was ob- 
vious. But it seemed to Tark that 
be was getting used to fear: it no 
longer filled him with wild and use- 
less panic — or maybe he was simply 
so hungry that nothing else both- 
ered him as much. 

Tark didn’t know, of course, that 
all of his actions all his life had 
been dominated by fear: fear of 
the Mauaii, fear of insecurity, 
fear of what h'is name would bring 
him. He didn’t know that he longed 
for obscurity, for peace, for death 
as the end of fear; and he didn’t 



know that it was his knowledge that 
he could never live up to his great 
grandfather’s mighty deeds that 
made him afraid in the first place; 
tested in action, he knew he would 
fail, and he feared failure because 
it would make him know himself at 
last. Who does not fear self-know- 
ledge? When such a man appears 
he brings liberation with him: he 
is a free man. 

It was this fear of failure in ac- 
tion that had driven Tark from his 
only friends in the cave, driven 
him down to the city to give him- 
self up to the Mauaii. 

The cart moved faster as it had 
to cross one of the main avenues 
radiating from the public square, 
and Tark, looking down the wide 
street, saw the mighty statue of his 
ancestor and, further down the 
avenue, the governor’s palace. 

Without even thinking about 
what he did, he leaped to his feet, 
jumped from the cart over the 
heads of the surprised guards, and 
was fleeing down the avenue as fast 
as he could go. His feet pounded a 
desperate tattoo on the cobble- 
stones as he ran, hjs breath came 
in jagged spurts. Shouts behind him 
made him run faster; he ran in a 
nightmare of confused misery. He 
had to get to the palace. The 
Mauaii would save him. 

Panting, he rushed into the main 
square, and he pushed his way 




44 



UNIVERSE 



frantically through the dense crowd 
gathered there. Heedless of the 
angry glances his rudeness earned 
him, he shoved and wriggled his 
way to the other side. 

Two of Rogar’s men were there, 
grinning at him. He was cut off. 
They had hurried around the edges 
of the square where the crowd was 
less dense. Whirling, Tark rushed 
back into the mass of people. He 
was comparatively safe as long as 
he stayed with the others; not 
even Rogar would dare lay hands 
on him there. 

But he couldn’t stay in the 
crowd forever. He was hungry and 
dirty and hot and miserable. He 
sat down wretchedly under the 
mighty statue of his ancestor and 
put his head in his hands. The 
bright jubilation of the people 
around him .made -him feel even 
worse, and he listened sullenly to 
their talk. 

“ . . . killed three nobles on the 
way to the general’s feast.” 

“And then he . . .disguised as a 
sailor ... as a woodcutter . . . the 
Mauaii are terrified ... as a beg- 
gar ... as a blind man . . . even 
disguised as a child . . . saw him 
kill six .soldiers and chase the 
others . . ” 

Tark groaned; this -hashing over 
of his ancestor’s mighty feats didn’t 
do any good. 

“And in the arena he . . .” 



Amazed, he leaped to his feet. 
They were talking dbout him! 
“. . . saw him, too. I was there . . . 
wouldn’t believe it .unless . . . 
with my own eyes . . .wonderful 
What a fighter! He threw away his 
sword and shield. I tell you he 
threw down his fighting equipment 
and attacked that fully armed sol- 
dier with his -bare hands! And beat 
him, too. He wanted to show us 
that our strength is not only in 
weapons, he wanted to show us 
that we have to use our brains. 
Yes, and when he got that soldier 
down he wouldn’t even kill 
him. I saw it! And then 
he killed all four of the soldiers 
guarding him to show us he could 
do that, too. Was there ever such a 
fighting man? All day }'esterday 
and all night he’s being prowling 
the city here, killing Mauaii. Some- 
times he’s alone and sometimes 
he’s leading other people.” The 
man was looking right at Tark. “I 
saw him with my own eyes,” he 
yelled. “As clearly as I see you.” 

“What does he look like?” some- 
body asked. 

“Like that!” the man flung his 
arm up and pointed to the statue 
that loomed over them. 

Despite himself, Tark burst out 
laughing. It was amazing how hard 
it was for some people to see the 
truth. “He looks like that statue?” 
Tark asked. 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



4S 



“You want a punch on the 
nose?” the man shouted. “You call- 
ing me a liar?” He shoved Tark 
angrily to the ground. 

“Leave the little guy alone,” 
somebody said. “If you want to 
fight so bad why don’t you fight 
the Mauaii?” 

“By all the godsl I’ll fight the 
Mauaii and then I’ll fight you and 
then I’ll come back and fight this 
guy that laughs at the Liberator! ” 
The keyed-up crowd roared ap- 
proval. 

“Let’s all go,” somebody yelled. 
“Tear up the benches and make 
clubs.” 

Forgotten, Tark lay on the 
ground where he had been shoved. 
Somebody picked him up and 
gently dusted him off. “Thank 
you,” said Tark. 

“Not at all,” Rogar said. “Come 
along or I’ll kill you.” He jabbed 
the point of a dagger into Tark’s 
ribs. “You’re a dangerous man, 
Tark. We’re not going to take any 
chances with you.” 

So Rogar wasn’t able to see the 
truth either. 

It suddenly struck Tark that he, 
himself, might be as blind as the 
rest of them; but he didn’t see 
how that could be. The whole thing 
seemed to base on the false belief 
that his great-grandfather’s spirit 
had entered into his body, making 
him a hero, and he knew that it 



certainly hadn’t. No, he decided, 
he was the only man who wasn’t 
deluding himself. 

Still, the knowledge that almost 
everyone on the planet of Lan 
seemed afraid of him made him 
hold his head high as he was match- 
ed captive through the streets by 
Rogar ’s men. He was shoved into 
the entrance of a large building in 
a poorer section of the city. 

“Up these stairs, Tark.” 

If only he could get to the Mau- 
aii with all the information he had 
picked up, not only about those 
poor lunatics in the cave, but about 
Rogar and his band of killers. 

He smiled again, thinking of his 
own new reputation as a killer. 
Turning suddenly on the steps, he 
said “Boo!” to one of the men fol- 
lowing him: the guard grabbed 
frantically for his sword, stepped 
back a pace, and toppled head over 
heels down the stairway. 

Rogar laughed. “We need you, 
Tark,” he said. “You can name 
your price,” Looking back, Tark 
saw that the guard he had fright- 
ened was lying motionless at the 
foot of the stairs, his neck bent at 
an impossible angle. 

“In here.” Rogar held back a 
curtain and followed Tark into the 
room. “Princess, here’s our man.” 
“Good,” she said. “Tark, we 
heard about what you’ve accom- 
plished since you escaped from the 




UNIVERSE 



46 

arena. We . . 

Rozer interrupted her. “You 
haven’t heard his latest feat. He 
killed one of my men just by shout- 
ing at him. He timed it so the fel- 
low would fall down the steps and 
break his neck.” 

Tark was embarrassed: he had 
not meant to hurt the man. He 
was not the kind of person to whom 
killing was a joke. But, still, if he 
had such a fierce reputation as he 
seemed to have ... he dismissed 
the thought: it would lead him to 
action, and he feared action be- 
cause he feared failure and the 
self knowledge it would bring him. 

“Well, Tark,” the princess was 
saying, “are you for us or against 
us?” 

He came back with a start. He 
hadn’t been^ listening. 

“You have to decide,” she said. 
“There may never come a time 
again when the Mauaii are so 
weak. We have information that 
there is a revolt on their home 
planet: they can’t be reinforced 
here. The people of Lan are ripe, 
too. All it needs is your name to stir 
them up. Tark, throw in with us.” 
Rogar strode forward. “What do 
you want, Tark? Power? We can 
give it to you. Fighting? All you 
want. Riches? Half the planet is 
yours. Anything a man can desire 
is waiting for you: reach out your 
hand.” 



Tark smiled, despite himself. 
What would he do with power? 
Fighting terrified him. Riches 
would be nice, but he wanted 
breakfast much more. “Well,” he 
said, “I’d like my cobbler shop 
back, and I’d like something to eat. 
Mainly I’d like to be let alone.” 

“Listen!” Rogar yelled. “You 
aren’t fooling anybody. We know 
you’ve been fighting the Mauaii: 
do you think we’re fools? If you 
agree to fight them on our side, all 
right! If you don’t . . .” He drew 
his dagger. “And you needn’t try 
to fight your way out. I have 
enough men in here to overcome 
you and your ancestor both! 
Listen! Do you know we killed him 
here in this room? And we can kill 
you, too.” 

“Rogar!” the princess snapped, 
and he fell silent, panting with 
anger. 

“We didn’t mean to tell you of 
that,” she said, “but I suppose it’s 
just as well. Our ancestors had 
him killed right here. Do you know 
what he was planning to do? He 
was going to turn the government 
of Lan over to the rabble. He was 
going to bypass the great dynasty 
of Lan — can you imagine that? He 
was going to let the planet be run 
by butchers and porters and sail- 
ors and . . .” 

“And shoemakers,” Tark said 
softly. He was surprised at his 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



47 



sudden anger: he remembered Nia- 
mala turning on him, asking him 
furiously if he didn’t care any- 
thing about democracy. So these 
were the heirs of the people who 
had murdered the Liberator. 

— All right, he thought, when I 
get to the Mauaii I won’t tell them 
anything about those poor fools in 
the cave; I’ll tell them about this 
house and the people in it. They 
deserve to be caught. 

“We’ll give you an hour to think 
it over,” Rogar said. “Either you’re 
with us or against us. Be with us 
and we’ll give you power: be 

against us and we’ll give you 
death.” 

The princess stood up. “I’ll ad- 
mit it frankly,” she said. “We’re 
afraid of you, Tark. If you won’t 
join us we’ll have to kill you. I’m 
sure you know enough about the 
mechanics of power to understand 
that. Your name is of great value 
as a symbol to the people. For 
every Mauaii you killed yesterday 
the people will be inspired to kill 
a hundred tomorrow. Think it over 
thoroughly, Tark. We offer you 
everything a man can want.” 

— Everything except freedom to 
live my own life, Tark thought. 
And you didn’t offer me breakfast, 
either. He watched them silently as 
they went out the door. It locked 
with a loud clashing of metal. 

He didn’t know anything about 



the mechanics of power, but he was 
learning. If power gave people the 
ability to push others around, then 
something was wrong somewhere. 
The Mauaii were cruel overlords, 
but be could see that Rogar and 
the princess would be no better. It 
wasn’t simply the Mauaii he had to 
fight: it was everybody who 

wanted domination over other 
people. 

He sat down glumly. What was 
this nonsense he was thinking? He 
didn’t want to fight anybody. 

It might have been different if 
his great grandfather’s spirit had 
really returned; then he might 
have gone and led the people of 
Lan to freedom, but what could a 
weak, frightened, and hungry man 
do? He was no hero, no killer. He 
was a disgrace to his ancestor’s 
name. 

“What will we do with him,' Ro- 
gar?” 

“Put him to death. Princess. 
He’s a killer. We can’t trust him. 
You saw how be acted, pretending 
to be a weakling. Tark’s playing a 
shrewd game, and we can’t afford 
to give him a chance to get ahead 
of us. We simply can’t trust him. 
If we had some hold on him, some 
way of making sure he wouldn’t be- 
tray Us after the Mauaii have been 
eliminated . . .” He paced up and 
down angrily. “I’ll admit it frank- 




UNIVERSE 



48 

ly,” he said, “I’m afraid df that 
man. The way he looks, puny, in- 
significant— and then the way he 
kills and kills. I’m a cold-blooded 
man. Princess, but I’ve never seen 
anything as terrible as the way he 
killed that guard coming up the 
steps. Tark simply turned around 
and said boo, and frightened him 
into falling downstairs and break- 
ing his neck.” 

“Perhaps it was an accident, Ro- 
gar. Maybe he meant to frighten 
the man.” 

Princess, this man is Tark! He 
doesn’t play practical jokes. He 
wanted to show me his powers. I 
could have killed the guard my- 
self if I had been in Park’s shoes, 
but I would have grabbed him and 
thrown him over the railing: can’t 
you see how deadly a fighting man 
Tark must be if his timing in action 
is so good that he can estimate the 
exact second the man would have 
been off balance? But I can’t see 
why he did it. I thought he was 
trying to show me this skill as a 
fighter in order to be in a better 
position to bargain with us, but he 
didn’t bargain at all. No, Princess, 
we can’t come to terms with him. 
Unless we can find some way to 
tie him to our interests I’m afraid 
we’ll have to kill him.” He toyed 
with the handle of his dagger. “My 
family has been in the service of 
your dynasty for centuries, Prin- 



cess: we killed Tark the Liberator 
once, and we can do it again.” 

“Do it, Rogar,” she hissed. “Kill 
him now and we’ll blame it on the 
Mauaii.” Her eyes were slits of cold 
flame. “Kill Tark, Rogar.” 

He strode to the door. “Guards,” 
he shouted. 

She struggled angrily in their 
brawny hands. “Let me go,” she 
said, “You don’t have to shove 
me. I want to go where you’re tak- 
ing me, don’t you understand 
that?” 

“In here,” one of them said. 
They pushed Niamala into the 
building. “Your lover-boy’s up- 
stairs if Rogar hasn’t killed him 
yet.” The guard laughed. “Won’t 
I do?” 

“Where is he? Take me to him.” 
Her nails left a series of red streaks 
down the guard’s face, and he drew 
back his fist in fury. “You asked 
for it,” he yelled. “You can’t . . .” 

“Guards!” The commanding 
voice from the top of the stairs 
froze him instantly in his place. 
“Come up here. Bring your 
swords. We have work to do. On 
the double.” 

“Rogar!” Niamala shook her- 
self free from the man holding her. 
“Rogar, I want to speak to you.” 

“Who’s that?” He came to the 
head of the steps and glared down. 

“Never mind who I am. I came 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



49 



to tell you to release Tark.” 

His harsh laughter reverberated 
through the house. 

“Release him!” he shouted. 
Tm just about to release him from 
everything. How did you know he 
was here? No matter.” He waited 
while his men filled the hall. “Two 
of you dig a couple of graves in the 
floor of the archive room. We’re 
going to kill Tark and I don’t want 
any delay in hiding the body. Wait 
a minute. Take that girl with you. 
Make sure she’s dead before you 
bury her. All right. The rest of you 
come up here. Tark’s no use to us 
if he won’t fight on our side. We’re 
going to . . .” He broke off and 
then was running down the steps 
two at a time, his boots clattering 
across the hall as he moved swiftly 
to where Niamala was struggling 
with the two guards who were pull- 
ing her out of the large room. 
Grabbing her by the arms, he 
shook her furiously. “Who are 
you? What are you to Tark? By the 
gods, you’ll be dead in two minutes 
if you don’t answer me. How do 
vou know my name? Who are 
you?” 

Pulling a pin from her hair, she 
thrust frantically at his eyes with 
it, but he ducked and the guards 
grabbed her again. 

“Who brought her in>? Who 
found this woman?” 

“I did, Rogar.” Holding his 



neck-cloth over his scratched face 
one of the men stepped forward. 
“I was on watch outside the build- 
ing when I saw her prowling 
around the back. She told me right 
off that she knew we had Tark in- 
side. So I brought her in. I didn’t 
figure you wanted anybody to 
know where he was. I . . .” 

“All right,” Rogar waved him to 
silence. 

“I came for two things, Rogar.” 
“So you can talk.” 

“I can do more than talk,” she 
said, shaking herself loose from the 
grip of the two mem “I can break 
this "rotten conspiracy of yours 
wide open if you don’t let Tark 
go. My friends are all around this 
house.” 

“Your friends? Do you think the 
Mauaii could come within a mile 
of this place without my know- 
ledge?” 

“The Mauaii! Rogar, don’t you 
know who the people were who 
rose behind Tark seventy-five years 
ago when he chased the Mauaii 
from Lan?” She stepped forward. 
“Listen, Rogar. I represent the un- 
derground organization of people 
who want freedom and democracy. 
Freedom from the Mauaii and free- 
dom from that worn out dynasty 
you’re working for.” 

He laughed again. “Don’t fool 
me, girl. I know how much diffi- 
culty my own organization had in 




UNIVERSE 



SO 

existing since the Mauaii returned: 
are you trying to tell me that a 
bunch of undisciplined fools could 

“If you think that free men can 
be less -brave or less determined 
than the followers of tyrants, Ro- 
gar, you’re wrong. We existed. We 
exist. If Tark and I don’t leave 
this house together in less than ten 
minutes my friends will tear it 
down over your thick head.” 

“Excellent!” Rogar said. “I like 
a good bluff. He seated himself on 
the lower step. “Suppose we wait 
for ten minutes and see what hap- 
pens.” 

Niamala felt a flutter of dismay 
in her heart. It was a weak bluff at 
best, but what else could she have 
done once she found herself help- 
less inside the fortified house? First 
Tark’s disappearance in the middle 
of the night had driven her hope- 
lessly from the cave in search of 
him, and then the sight of the 
Mauaii batallion attacking the cave 
entrance she had just left had come 
as a great shock. Most of the un- 
derground would escape by the 
prepared passageways in the tun- 
neled limestone, but she knew that 
many of them would be captured 
on their way to the meeting place 
in the city. 

So with misery in her heart she 
had come down the mountain. 

As soon as she heard the des- 



cription of the small man who had 
been taken off by Rogar and his 
armed guards, she knew where 
Tark would be found.' The people 
who told her, or course, didn’t 
know it was Tark they had seen, 
but she recognized him from their 
description. Frantically, she had 
rushed off to look at Tark’s prison, 
rushed off without making any plan 
for her safety or Tark’s rescue, and 
now she found herself helpless, a 
captive in Rogar’s hands. 

Miserably, she sat beside Rogar 
while the minutes passed. 

“Well?” he said finally. “Are 
you ready to talk now? Your bluff 
didn’t work.” 

She shook her head sullenly, de- 
termined not to make things worse 
by talking. 

“You came here to sa\'e Tark, 
didn’t you? All right. You know 
we have him upstairs in this build- 
ing. You know we were about to 
kill him when you came in. Listen 
to me. The only thing that can save 
Tark now is for him to join us.” 

“He'll never join you,” she burst 
out. 

“Perhaps he will.” He looked at 
her. “Niamala, what makes you so 
sure he won’t?” 

“Because he . . . how did you 
know my name?” 

Rogar grinned fiercely at her. 
“I didn’t. When we captured Tark 
this morning he asked if we were 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



from Niamala. You mean some- 
thing to him, don’t you? Maybe if 
we let him know we hold you as a 
hostage . . He didn’t bother to 
finish the sentence. “Let’s see how 
he takes it.” He stood up and 
pulled her to her feet. “Guards! 
You ten stand behind me with your 
swords ready. If Tark tries to make 
any trouble, cut him down. All 
right. Let’s go.” 

They went up the great curving 
staircase and stood outside the 
heavy wooden door. Rogar unlock- 
ed the massive chains and slipped 
the door open. “Tark,” he said 
softly, “we’ve brought you some- 
thing. I have reason to think you 
value it highly.” 

“Breakfast?” said a weary voice 
from the dark room. Tark couldn’t 
think of anything he wanted more. 

“Don’t give in to them, Tark,” 
Niamala shouted suddenly. 

“Who’5 that?” he called, spring- 
ing to his feet. The light .in the 
hall dazzled him. 

Rogar shoved her inside the 
room. 

“Niamala?” Tark moved to- 
wards her, forgetting his hunger 
and his fear and his weariness. 
Value it highly! Rogar’s sneer had 
opened Tark’s eyes. It wasn’t 
hatred that had glowed in his chest 
whenever he thought of her: it was 
love. He moved almost happily 
through the room of death and held 



SI 

her gently while he looked into 
her eyes. How could he have been 
so wrong? It seemed to him that 
everybody on Lan was moving 
through a fog of delusion, and that 
only love could make the fog lift 
to show the clear landscape of 
truth. Poor Tark — he had learn- 
ed part of the truth and he 
thought he knew it all. He 
was just about to kiss Niamala 
when Rogar’s arrogant laughter 
made them spring stiffly apart; 
they had forgotten that they were 
prisoners. 

“I see you know each other,” 
Rogar said. “I’ll leave you two 
alone for an hour to talk things 
over. After that I won’t kill you, 
Tark. I’ll kill the girl . . . unless 
you join us.” He slid out of the 
room, and the clank of chains 
showed them that they were locked 
in. 

“What are you doing here?” 
Tark asked. 

She sat down disconsolately on 
the stone floor. “I came to rescue 
you,” she said. “The revolution 
needs you. But I came rushing into 
the house without a plan, just 
rushing in like a fool, and so here 
I am.” She gestured around wearily 
“Here.” 

He sat down beside her and she 
rested her head on his shoulder. 

“Tark,” she said, “I’m an awful 
fool.” 




52 



UNIVERSE 



“Everybody’s an awful fool,” 
said Tark, who had learned some- 
thing in the last few days. “Don’t 
let it worry you,” 

She smiled up at him in the 
darkness. “I mean you didn’t need 
me to help you escape if you want- 
ed to. You could have broken out 
of here at any time.” 

“What?” said Tark, bewildered. 
“I keep forgetting you’re the 
Liberator.” 

“Damn!” Tark jumped to his 
feet. “I thought you . . .1 thought 
you could see the truth. I thought 
you . . . Listen , , . I’m only a shoe- 
maker. Can’t you understand 
that? I make shoes. I’m not 
a hero. I’m not a killer. I’m not a 
Liberator or anything else. I 
thought you . . .” "He broke off, 
letting the echoes of his voice ring 
flatly from the stone walls. He 
wanted* to say I thought you loved 
me and understood me, but he 
didn’t dare. The memory of 
Phindus came back to him. She 
had kissed Phindus. She loved 
Phindus. Tark had never been as 
lonely as he was now. “I’m sorry,” 
he said. Couldn’t he ever get rid 
of the webs of misunderstanding? 
“It's just that nobody knows who I 
really am. Everybody thinks I’m 
somebody great. I’m not! I’m me! 
Tark! That’s all!” 

He was sitting on the floor again, 
and she was stroking his forehead 



with a cool hand. “Tark, do you 
remember Ramfis?” 

“Who?” He didn’t want to talk 
any more. When Rogar came back 
he’d agree to anything the man 
wanted. That was the simplest way 
out. 

“Ramfis. The old historian in the 
cave.” 

“Oh, him. Sure.” 

“Tark, he fought beside your 
great-grandfather. He’s an old man, 
Tark, and an honest man. He says 
you have your great-grandfather’s 
spirit in you. Listen to me, Tark. 
Don’t shake your head. Hear me 
out until I’m finished. If Ramfis 
says you’re the Liberator, then it’s 
true. You can count on that. It’s 
true. Maybe you don’t know it. 
Maybe you don’t want to know it. 
But, Tark, you have the spirit of 
the Liberator in you, and you can 
free this planet from the Mauaii 
and from the dynasty if you want 
to. The Mhuaii are in trouble, 
Tark. Have you ever noticed 
which of them are on Lan? Think, 
Tark! Only soldiers and officials 
and great lords and ladies and a 
few technicians. You can’t build a 
civilization on people like that! 
Where are the common people 
among the Mauaii? Not here, Tark, 
but on their own planet of Ter.” 
She twisted her lips to form the un- 
familiar syllable. “Long ago their 
physical sciences advanced far be- 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



53 



yond their knowledge of how to use 
them. Vast riches were theirs, but 
instead of using them they fought 
over them. Tark, they defeated 
famine and disease, but they 
couldn’t defeat their own foolish- 
ness. And so war followed war, and 
the rights of the individual began 
to get lost in the shuffle. A country 
where everyone thinks the same 
thoughts and does the same things 
is stronger — on the brute level of 
force — -than a country where peo- 
ple are free, and so in the name of 
preserving freedom, freedom was 
attacked. You’ve seen the results. 

The Mauaii! Fighters who fight 
for oppression, rulers who rule for 
tyranny, a few rich people who live 
for nothing, and thinkers who are 
reduced to the level of technicians 
lest they think of something that 
may cause the rulers trouble. You 
saw the electric lights in the cave, 
Tark. They were set up for us by 
one of the Mauaii technicians who 
deserted them, and he was only the 
first. Without their technicians 
they’re helpless. Think, Tark! Does 
it make sense that people who have 
spaceships must do their fighting 
with bows and arrows and swords? 
It’s because the warrior class dis- 
trusts the technicians, and because 
the rulers fear them. Well, Tark, 
the technicians have abandoned the 
warriors and the rulers. If the 
Mauaii fight us now it’ll be on our 



own ground and with the same kind 
of weapons we have. They’ve kept 
us in ignorance for as long as they 
could, but they didn’t realize that 
they lived in the same ignorance as 
we.” 

“Urn,” said Tark unenthusiasti- 
cally. He loved her and she loved 
Phindus. All the talk in the world 
wouldn’t fix that. 

“And, Tark, listen. Even on their 
own planet they’re in trouble. They 
never fully beat down the people 
who want freedom. Not here and 
not on Ter. Parts of their world 
had a long tradition of liberty, and 
they were never able to stamp it 
out. There’s rebellion on Ter now, 
Tark; rebellion against the Mauaii. 
Listen to this. It’s from an ancient 
document that some of the Terrans, 
as they call themselves, have been 
protecting for thousands of yeafs. 
Listen, Tark. They never forgot 
it.” She paused while a guard’s 
heavy feet tramped past the door. 

“We hold these truths to be self- 
evident, that all men are created 
equal, that they are endowed by 
their Creator with certain unalien- 
able rights, that among these are 
life, liberty and the pursuit of hap- 
piness. That to secure these rights, 
governments are instituted among 
men, deriving their just powers 
from the consent of the governed.” 

“I still don’t see what it has to 
do with me,” Tark said. 




54 



UNIVERSE 



“You don’t? Freedom is every- 
body’s business. Listen, Tark, we 
need you. We need every fighter 
we can get.” 

“Fighter?” said Tark. “I . . 

He broke off. Everybody thought 
he was a fighter. A fighter! If he 
were a fighter he wouldn’t sit idly 
by and lose Niamala to Phindus. 
No. He’d fight to take her away 
from Phindus. He’d grab her and 
tell her he loved her. That's what 
he’d do if he were a fighter. 

So he grabbed her and told her 
he loved her. 

“Niamala, I love you.” 

“Sure, me too.” 

“What?” 

“I love you too.” 

He let go and stepped back in 
amazement. “But . . . But I . . . 
But you went running up to Phin- 
dus when you saw him there on the 
mountain. You were always with 
him. I saw you. You kissed him. He 
kissed you. I . . . Don’t you love 
him?” ’ 

“Of course I love him.” 

a j )■) 

“He’s my brother.” 

“Do you think he’ll come over 
to our side, Rogar?” 

“He’ll have to, Princess. I saw 
how he looked at that girl when we 
shoved her in with him. She’ll make 
a perfect hostage.” 

“I won't feel safe until he’s 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



55 



dead.” 

“Neither will I, Princess, but we 
have to use him first. As soon as 
the people see he’s on our side 
we’ll be sure to win. After that 
. . .” He drew his finger across his 
throat. “We can kill the girl imme- 
diately, of course, and let him 
think we’re holding her captive” 

“Is that wise, Rogar?” 

“Wise or not,- I’m going to do it. 
There’s power in complete ruthless- 
ness, Princess: your enemies always 
underestimate you.” 

“How much longer are you going 
to give them?” 

“Another half hour should be 
plenty.” 

“Half an hourl Five minutes 
would be better.” 

“But how are we going to es- 
cape?” she asked. 

“Escape?” 

“Get out of here.” 

“Oh.” Reluctantly Tark brought 
himself back to reality. “You 
mean escape. I don’t suppose we 
can.” 

“Well,” she said, “it was nice 
knowing you. I suppose you know 
Rogar plans to kill me in a little 
while.” 

“No he won’t. Not if I agree 

“Tark! You wouldn’t make a 
deal with Rogar. He wouldn’t keep 
his side of it in any event.” 



“Well ... I guess not. But to es- 
cape . . . that’s hard.” He looked 
around at the stone walls and floor. 

“The Liberator could do it.” 

“I’m not . . .” There was no 
point in losing his temper. If he 
couldn’t persuade even Niamala 
that he wasn’t the Liberator, how 
could he ever persuade anybody 
else? “Wait! Aren’t we upstairs 
here?” 

“Yes,” she said. “We’re over the 
room where Rogar keeps the dy- 
nasty’s documents.* Old Ramfis 
says he’d give everything he has to 
be able to have free run of that 
room for a week. He says he could 
write a history that would . . .” 

“If we’re over another room then 
the stones in the floor here can’t be 
very thick. They’d weigh too 
much.” He dropped to his knees, 
glad to be able to cut off her talk 
about the old historian. Her faith 
in Ramfis’ declaration that he 
really contained the spirit of the 
Liberator seemed to build a wall 
between them. 

“Give me one of your shoes,” he 
said. 

“My shoe?” She held it out to 
him. “But why?” 

“Watch.” With practiced hands 
he ripped off the sole. “I recog- 
nized the make. There’s a chunk of 
metal under the arch here to sup- 
port the instep.” He pulled the rest 
of -the shoe apart. “Here,” he said. 




UNIVERSE 



S6 

“Do the same to the other one.” 

Taking the piece of steel in his 
right hand, he began to work it into 
the cement joining one of the 
stones of the floor to the base of 
the wall. “How much time do you 
suppose we have?” 

Niamala was kneeling beside him, 
digging with the other piece of 
metal. “I don’t know, but let’s 
hurry.” 

Ten minutes later she helped 
Tark pull the stone out of position. 
Together they kneeled and looked 
down into the dark room beneath 
them. 

“Here,” Tark said. “Give me 
your hands and I’ll swing you down 
as far as I can.” 

She landed with a thump and a 
gasp. “All right,” she called up. 

Tark looked at his hands. Blood. 
“Why didn’t you tell me you were 
cutting yourself? I could have dug 
that ...” 

“Come on down,” she called. 
“We have to get out of here. You 
can heal cut hands but not a cut 
throat.” 

Tark grabbed the edge of the 
flooring and slid downward into 
the darkness. He hung full length 
for a moment, nerving himself to 
make the drop. 

“Hurry up,” whispered Niamala, 
and he let go. 

Thump! 

“Owl” 



“Shhh. They’ll hear us.” 

“I think I’ve broken my neck.” 
“Did you?” 

“No. I guess not.” 

“You made enough noise.” 

“I’m just not used to this hero 
business. I’m a shoemaker.” 

“Tark! Somebody’s coming down 
the hall outside. What if he comes 
in here?” 

“Shhh. Get behind me.” 

The door opened. 

Bop! 

“Tark! What did you do?” 

“I hit him with one of these 
metal boxes. Help me pull him in- 
side and shut the door again. Is he 
dead?” 

■ “Unconscious. What’s all this 
paper?” 

“The box open when I hit him. 
The paper was in it.” 

“Tark! Tark!” 

“What?” 

“One of these papers is address- 
ed to you! ” 

They sat down below the grating 
through which a dim light trickled, 
neither of them knowing that the 
Liberator’s unmarked grave was 
only a few feet away in the same 
room. 

“Rogar, they’ve had enough time 
together.” 

“Another fifteen minutes, Prin- 
cess. I want to wear down Tark’s 
nerve by the waiting.” 

“Are you arguing with me, Ro- 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



57 



gar?” 

“Princess! I am your hunfble ad- 
visor.” 

“Then have the girl taken out 
and killed.” 

“Yes, Princess.” 

“At once.” 

“In fifteen minutes, Princess. I 
■have just sent one of my guards 
down to prepare her grave in the 
archive room.” 

“Rogar, you will have 'her killed 
now. Immediately. And then you 
will give orders that half of your 
guards are to be taken into my 
own corps -of warriors. You have 
no need of so many personal troops. 
I said nothing of it before, but now, 
with this Tark business, you seem 
much too independant. Remember, 
Rogar, you are not ruler here. 
I am.” 

“My family has always served 
yours. Princess. You need not mis- 
trust me. I shall obey your order. 
Guardi” He waited until one of 
his men appeared- at the door. “You 
will prepare a squad to take and 
execute the girl ... in fifteen min- 
utes.” 

“This is amazing,” Tark said. “I 
don’t know what to think.” He had 
the paper close to his eyes. Nia- 
mala tried to read it over his shoul- 
der. Neither of them saw the guard 
twitch and start to roll over. 

“What does it say?” she asked. 



“What’s amazing?” 

“Listen to this: From Tark the 
Liberator to his Descendants. 
Listen. He wrote it himself. It 
says: T write this in haste, hoping 
it will someday reach my son or 
one of my grandsons. I am about to 
die. I am frightened. Perhaps 
writing this will enable me to pull 
myself together and face death 
bravely, but I am not a brave man. 
I . . .” 

“Not brave?” Niamala asked. 
“The Liberator not brave? But no 
greater hero ever walked on Lan.” 

“Listen to this,” said Tark . . . 
‘but I am not a brave man. I fear 
pain and I fear death. I am told 
that the dynasty is erecting a great 
statue in the public square, a statue 
which will bear my name; my 
jailors have taken me to the room 
and let me see it. Deadly irony! 
It is of a giant, strong, confident. 
But I am only a small, weak, 
frightened man; and the rulers of 
Lan want the symbol of liberation 
to be a superman. It was not 
supermen who freed this planet 
from the Mauaii. It was men. It 
was ordinary men. And that is 
what these tyrants want the people 
to forget — that ordinary men have 
the strength to overthrow tyranny. 
It was fear that sharpened my wits 
in my battles with . . .’ 

Leaping to his feet, the soldier 
rushed toward the door. Tark 




UNIVERSE 



58 

flung the document to Niamala, 
jumped at the guard, smashed him 
in the throat with one fist, bounced 
his head against the wall with the 
other, and slammed his knee 
against the man’s jaw as he went 
down. 

“I thought you weren’t a 
fighter,” Niamala said. 

“Do you realize what this 
means?” Tark asked. “All my life 
I’ve been living under the shadow 
of that statue. All my life I’ve 
known I couldn’t live up to my an- 
cestor’s deeds. But I can! I can do 
whatever he did! He was only a 
man like me. They made him into 
a symbol, but behind the symbol 
was a man. He fought one group of 
tyrants and another group killed 
him. But he was a man.” 

He took the paper back from 
Niamala. “Listen to this: the last 
paragraph. ‘They will come for me 
soon: I understand I am to be 
buried here in the archive room!’” 

“Here!” whispered Niamala. 

‘They will keep my death secret. 
The king’s aide tells me he has al- 
ready set a rumor afoot that I 
have been taken up to the land of 
the gods, that I will return every 
seventy five years to the body of 
one of my descentants if I am 
needed. Ashes in my mouth! Truth 
is what the people need, not super- 
stition. All I have fought for is 
gone — one tyranny is as bad as 



another. But the people have over- 
thrown the Mauaii, and I know 
they will overthrow the dynasty 
in time. I leave this paper among 
the thousands of papers here in the 
archives: it will be safe here. Ty- 
rants, having no need of truth, 
have no need for history. When 
finally these papers are studied, I 
ask the finder to deliver this, my 
last testament, to any of my des- 
cendants then living. I am a man. 
I was a man. Stand in no hero’s 
shadow: the sunlight is for every- 
one.’ 

Niamala was gripping Tark’s 
arm tightly. “I didn’t know,” she 
said. “None of us knew. We never 
thought of him as human.” 

Tark drew a deep breath. “We’re 
all human,” he said. “All of us. 
Remember that soldier I fought in 
the arena? He was a professional 
hero, a killer, but he was as afraid 
as I was when he thought he was 
about to die. Niamala, I think 
we're going to win this revolution. 
Now let’s concentrate on getting 
out of here.” 

“Rogar, I told you to have the 
girl killed immediately. Why did 
you give orders to wait?” 

“Because I thought it best. The 
longer . . 

“You thought it best! You!” 
“Permit me to continue. The 
longer Tark and the girl are locked 




THE SHOEMAKER OF LAN 



59 



in the room there, the more willing 
Tark will be to join us in order to 
save her life.” 

“You put your will above 
mine?” Who am I, Rogar?” 

“You are the princess of the 
great house of Lan.” 

“And who are you?” 

“I am Rogar, your devoted ad- 
visor.” 

“Stand up in my presence, Ro- 
gar. Without my support you are 
nothing, you are less than a beg- 
gar.” 

“Do you really believe that non- 
sense? Do you really think your 
silly dynasty could last two days 
without ...” 

“Rogar! Shut up and stand up 
or rii . . .” 

“Ah! The fishwife, the nagging 
shrew appears. Listen, you silly 
little ...” 

“You’re under arrest, Rogar.” 
Furious, she strode to the door. 
“Guards!” she called. “Arrest this 
man.” Her whole body trembled 
with rage as she pointed at Rogar. 

“They won't do it,” he said. 



“It’s time you learned . . 

“Won’t we?” asked one of the 
guards, drawing his sword. “You 
heard her highness, Rogar, You’re 
under arrest.” 

“No he isn’t,” yelled the other 
guard. “You can’t arrest Rogar.” 

jMen died. 

As the guards from the doorways 
were pulled into the fight raging 
in front of the princess’ apart- 
ments, Tark and Niamala, hand in 
hand, walked peacfully out of the 
building. He knew now that the 
Liberator’s spirit was in him, as it 
was in every man who feared death 
but hated tyranny. 

“What will we do now?” Nia- 
mala asked. 

“Now? First we’ll get breakfast. 
Then we’ll kick the Mauaii off 
Lan.” He looked back. “I don’t 
think the dynasty will give us any 
trouble, they seem too busy fight- 
ing themselves. Then we'll settle 
down and open a cobbler’s shop.” 

And so Tark, Tark the Libera- 
tor, walked the streets of Lan after 
an absence of seventy five years. 



THE END 




Renwiek, with too much 
time on his hands, was 
bored . He turned to 
Mead, in his discontent, 
only to discover some 
frightening aspects of his 
friend's hobby of collect- 
ing children's games and 
rhymes, 

BEFORE 

THE 

FACT 

Zenna Henderson 



13 ENVVICK looked out over the 
beautiful, orderly city. He 
watched, without seeing, the planes 
sliding down the power beams to 
the airport. If he had been in the 
mood for noting, he would have 
noted the sharp, clear mountains 
beyond the city, the green tracery 
of summer threading every street 
and alley with cool, rustling shade 
that darkened the soft pastels of 
the *low gracious buildings. But, in 
the depths of one of his more and 
more frequent restless moods, he 
rapped his knuckles sharply against 
the window sill and turned his back 
on the out-of-doors. 

“Anything specific?” Mead 
glanced up from his book. 

“No, everything in general.” 
Renwiek perched briefl}^ on the 
couch, but was back at the window 
almost immediately, staring blindly 
at nothing. With a mutter, he turn- 
ed around again. 

“Don’t just sit there reading! 
Do something! ” 

Mead laid his book aside and 
gave Renwiek his wihole attention, 
folding his hands like an attentive 
child. 

“Meaning, tell you something to 
do,” he smiled. “Travel?” 

“I just got back. The planets are 
no more interesting than earth. 
It’s too far to go to be bored. Might 
as well stay here.” 

“Sports?” 



60 




BEFORE T.HE FACT 



6i 



“I’m tired of them.” 

“Work?” 

“I've finished my days for this 
quarter.” 

“It’s too bad you never felt 
drawn to the arts— say painting or 
sculpturing or ceramics. Or even 
writing. They say artisans can al- 
ways find something to occupy 
themselves.” 

“Well, as far as that goes, I sup- 
pose I could occupy myself too, 
but I don't see any point to it. It 
isn’t — isn’t necessary.” 

“There’s always marriage and a 
family.” 

“Yes, there’s that, but why 
bother? Why perpetuate the race? 
What use is life?” 

“There you have asked an im- 
mortal question,” said Mead, tap- 
ping his finger tips together. “I 
imagine our remotest ancestors 
had the same query. Maybe life’s 
like beauty — its own excuse for 
being.” 

Renwick came back to the couch 
and sank down, wearily. 

“Everything is too finished. 
There are no more frontiers any 
more.” 

“Another immortal remark,” 
smiled Mead. “You might at least 
amend it to no apparent frontiers.” 

“Well, look at us,” said Ren- 
wick. “No more war, no more pov- 
erty, no more crime except killings, 
occasionally, and suicide — which, 



incidentally, are on the increase. 
No more worries about tomorrow. 
Health and certainty and security 
till it comes out our ears. Practic- 
ally no government except in a co- 
ordinating caipacity.” 

The corners of Mead’s mouth 
lifted a little. “Of course you know 
you’re describing paradise as it 
looked to our ancestors.” 

“Then I’d rather live in a time 
with less paradise and more inter- 
est.” said Renwick petulantly. 

“Quite a number of our people 
are finding their frontiers and in- 
terest in research into -man’s rela- 
tionship to God and the Universe 
and inquiry into the nature of 
death and what follows.” 

Renwick squirmed uncomfort- 
ably, his face reddening. 

“Um, yes — but it isn’t— exactly 
in my line. I mean, it’s all rigiht, 
but I — I don’t care for that parti- 
ular type — ” 

Mead half smiled as he nodded 
thoughtfully. “Yes,” he said. “Yes. 
If there has to be a reason, that 
could be why, perhaps.” 

“Why what?” Renwick was on 
the defensive. “Just because I don’t 
go in for — ” 

“Just because you, like so many 
of us, are still embarrassed by the 
mention of God.” 

“I’m not embarrassed,” protest- 
ed Renwich, “I’m just — ” 

“Embarrassed,” Mead smiled. 




UNIVERSE 



62 

“Well, let it pass. 

“I’ve recently come across some- 
thing of considerable interest in 
connection with my hobby.” 

“Your hobby? Oh — oh yes, 
something about children’s litera- 
ture isn’t it?” 

“Not exactly. It’s more child’s 
play.” Mead’s lips lifted to his 
slight joke. “I have a wonderful 
collection of play chants, for in- 
stance, jumping rope rhythms and 
counting out nhymes and clapping 
rhythms. I recently ran down an 
intriguing rhythm-rhyme that be- 
gins — 

In nineteen forty- jour 
My father went to war 
“Imagine children singing 
and rhyming as far back as 1944. 
It’s hard to imagine warm, laugh- 
ing ohildren mixed in with those 
chaotic times, isn’t it?” 

“Very interesting.” Renwick’s 
tone belied his words. 

Mead smiled. “No, that isn’t the 
particular interesting matter I 
mentioned. 

“As you know, one phase of my 
hobby has been the relationship of 
children’s games and toys to their 
society — how society is reflected in 
their games. It was in the course of 
■my research into the twentieth cen- 
tury that I noticed something odd. 
I think it has implications that 
should interest even you, along 
with a lot more of our restless citi- 



zens, many of whom, as you indi- 
cated, are ohoosing their own 
exits. 

“I take a lot of Interesting of 
late.” Ren wick relaxed on the 
couch. “But your voice is sooth- 
ing.” He smiled in genuine liking 
at Mead. 

“Well,” continued Mead, tap- 
ping his finger tips together again. 
“Early in the twentieth century as 
nearly as we can ascertain, this 
countr}^ had a horse-drawn econ- 
omy. Horses loomed large in the 
picture, not only for riding and 
racing but as beasts of burden and 
as motive power in transportation. 
Naturally children’s toys included 
horses and items pertaining to 
them, and suitable wheeled ve- 
hicles — echoing their culture. 

“Then came the gasoline engine 
era and corresponding toy convey- 
ances and games. These two eras 
did very little overlapping except in 
the ‘cowboy’ area of interest — but 
that’s beside the point. 

“Air travel came almost simul- 
taneously with the gasoline era as 
historic time goes. And toy aircraft, 
dolls relating to air personnel and 
other game activities followed, 
based on air transport. 

“So far — everything as expected. 
“But — ” and IMead leaned for- 
ward — “Coincident with this ex- 
pected development, came the first 
Anticipation.” 




BEFORE THE FACT 



“Anticipation?” Renwick roused 
enough to echo. 

“Yes. That is what I call the 
type of phenomenon I observed for 
the first time in the era. For the 
first time, I found where children’s 
toys and games pre-dated a devel- 
opment! ” 

Mead sat back in his chair, glow- 
ing with satisfaction. 

“I’m sorry,” Renwick shifted un- 
comfortably. “I don’t get it.” 

“Let me explain further. After 
the air age began, space travel be- 
came a dream possible of achieve- 
ment. As we know, space travel 
did develop in the twentieth cen- 
tury, but — now mark this—” Mead 
leaned forward and his finger tap- 
ped emphasis on Renwick’s knee. 
“Children were playing with space 
guns and space ships and space 
helmets and space suited dolls for 
at least fifteen years before there 
was actual space travel!” 

Mead sat back and waited. Ren- 
wick smiled ruefully. “So?” 

“Don't you see?” Mead was im- 
patient. “Horses — toy horses. Gas- 
oline cars — toy cars. Aircraft — toy 
aircraft. Space^oyr — space travel! 
The children anticipated space 
travel in their toys, their games, 
their thinking bejore there was 
space travel. The whole basic order 
was reversed.” 

“But — ” protested Renwick. 
“There must have been adult talk 



63 

and planning and writing about 
space travel even fifteen years be- 
fore it happened and even before 
the toys were made. And adults 
made the toys ! ” 

“Of course, of course, granted,” 
Mead fanned his fingers impatient- 
ly. “Adults are always in evidence, 
but try to make a child play with a 
toy it doesn’t want. Try to force 
an interest that isn’t there. Some- 
thing anticipated long enough in 
advance for us to be able to see 
the gap from this far away in his- 
tory, and it anticipated in such a 
way that it found expression among 
the children. 

“Now, that isn’t all. I started 
tracing major developments in his- 
tory, correlating them with my 
chronology of toys and games. It 
was interesting — and a little 
frightening. 

“Remember when they finally 
got to Venus? The first historic 
words spoken by man on that 
planet were — if you’ll pardon the 
language — ‘Hell-a-mighty ! Look 
at the Smooleys!’ Because the first 
moving live thing they saw was a 
herd of Smooleys. 

“Not important? But did you 
know that at that time the children 
of earth had been playing with toy 
Smooleys for ten years? Almost 
identical. Those on Venus were 
four times as big, of course, and 
lacking the lavender stripe down 




64 



UNIVERSE 



the back; but when photographs 
were brought back to earth, the 
real Smooleys looked- wrong be- 
cause they lacked the stripe. And 
that was the second instance of 
anticipation I found.” 

“It was the same before the es- 
tablishment of the under-sea min- 
ing towns. For years before the 
towns were planned on a do-it- 
someday basis, children played in 
diving helmets. They clumped 
along in weighted shoes. They 
shouted their games nasally be- 
cause of nose clips. Some, I im- 
agine, even managed to sleep in 
their sea suits. When the towns be- 
came actualities, children were 
permitted incredibly soon. And 
I’ll wager they felt very little odd- 
ness about the restrictions laid 
upon them. They were used to 
them already from their play, ex- 
cept now they couldn’t carelessly 
strip off a helmet when mother 
called them to meals. 

“Even in your own lifetime 
there has been a good example. 
Remember?” 

Renwick smiled. “Sorry, Mead. 
I seldom associate with children. 
Never did- like them too much.” 
“You wouldn’t have associated 
with these anyway,” said Mead. 
“They were children- of the Mars 
Colonists.” 

“Oh, the Caveners?” 

“Yes, you remember — or prob- 



ably don’t — that about ten years 
ago the children all started to 
deck themselves out with narrow 
strips of lunium. The craze grew 
until thjcy looked like animated 
Christmas trees. Every article of 
clothing was fringed with lunium, 
head bands and bracelets and 
anklets and belts. And this was 
before the Break-Through four 
years ago. Remember that?” 

“Why yes,” Renwick straighten- 
ed slowly. “They broke through 
into that cave where those un- 
speakable, horrible Guglins lived 
and had a time wiping them out -be- 
fore they got wiped out them- 
selves.” 

“Yes,” nodded Mead, “Though 
as a matter of fact, they didn’t 
wipe them out, they walled them 
back in where they came from. 
And?” 

“And their only defense,” said 
Renwick in a tone of surprise, 
“Was to cover themselves with 
lunium fringe. Something about 
the glitter or the movement or the 
metal itself fended The Guglins off 
till they could figure out counter 
measures.” 

“Yes, exactly. But the children’s 
play anticipated the need far 
enough ahead that some of the 
youngsters couldn’t remember 
when children didn’t dress in 
lunium fringe.” 

“Well!” Renwiok’s face was 




BEFORE THE FACT 



amused through its surprise. “May- 
be you’ve hit on something after 
all!” 

“Yes.” Mead smiled at the un- 
conscious betrayal of Renwick’s 
words. “I think so. Of course there 
were other instances more remote 
from our times. Some, but not too 
many. I curtailed my ‘report’ be- 
cause my grandchildren should be 
home any minute.” 

Renwick scrambled to his feet. 
“Oh, then I’ll be going. Don’t want 
to intrude.” 

“Not at all.” Mead motioned 
him back to his seat. “I would like 
to have you meet them. They’re 
not so bad as grandchildren go. 
They’ve spent the day in Africa 
at that new lake in the interior. I 
can’t remember its name. It’s quite 
popular at this time of year for its 
water lilies.” 

A sudden shout of laughter 
echoed down the hall and there 
was the swift clatter of running 
feet and the door was flung open. 

To Renwick it felt like an in- 
vasion. Five minutes later he had 
held somewhat tentatively three 
fairly grubby hands — two female 
and one male, had been weighed 
by three pairs of piercingly blue 
eyes, cataloged competently and 
set aside briskly and impersonally, 
before the three decended again 
upon Mead from all points of the 
compass. The riot was finally stop- 



65 

ped by the intervention of a fem- 
inine echo of Mead who detached 
the children and, after introduc- 
tions, collected them with a “Don’t 
kill your Grandad completely.” 
“We’re not killing him. Mother,” 
protested t'he older girl. “We’re 
only giving him our water lilies.” 
“Well, thanks for remembering 
me,” laughed Mead, “But I .think 
they’d be happier in the pond or 
even in your bath tub, than around 
my neck or behind my ears.” 
“Okay, Grandad.” 

The children gathered up the 
multicolored blossoms and started 
away. The older girl turned at the 
door, her brief skirts gathered up 
in both hands to make a lap for 
carrying the flowers. 

“Oh, are you through with, my 
dolls yet. Grandad?” 

“Not quite, Chica. Maybe this 
evening.” 

“Well, okay.” Her face was dis- 
appointed and her voice floated 
back to them as she left. “It seems 
to me Grandad’s pretty old to be 
playing with dolls.” 

Mead and Renwick laughed to- 
gether, but Mead sobered quickly. 

“I want to show the dolls to 
you,” he said. 

“To me?” Renwick’s eyebrows 
lifted. 

“Yes.” Mead went to his desk 
and got a small box from the bot- 
tom drawer. “This is the item I 




66 



UNIVERSE 



thought might be of interest to you, 
Oh Citizen of a Finished World!” 

His slight smile mocked Ran- 
wick gently. He sat down again, 
the box on his knees. “It leaves me 
a little breathless,” he said, paus- 
ing with the lid half lifted. “To 
think that I have detected an An- 
ticipation before it became widely 
apparent. Even in view of the prob- 
able brevity of my pride — ” 

He laid the lid aside. 

“Chica made the first of these 
dolls two years ago for herself when 
she was eight.” He stood it up 
on the desk, where it wavered and 
then slid flat. 

“She received the second for her 
birthday last year. Her mother 
finally found it in an out-of-the- 
way toy shop.” He placed the sec- 
ond doll on the desk and it stood 
staunchly, returning Renwick’s 
startled stare. 

“This one she received for her 
birthday last week. It’s number 
1 6 in a series of 24, available at 
any toy shop.” The third doll com- 
pleted the row. 

“Why I know what those are 
supposed to be!” cried Renwick. 
“I went through a museum last 
week in a moment of desperation. 
Those are ancient people who lived 
in caves. And wore fur garments, 
if any. And used clubs to—” His 
voice ran down and stopped. He 
wet his lips with the tip of his 



tongue. His eyes went to Mead 
and clung. 

“You mean you think that 
these — ” 

“I can only judge by the past,” 
said Mead. “But I’m sure this is a 
genuine Anticipation. Stubby — 
that’s my grandson — has been prac- 
ticing, along with his contempor- 
aries, with a sling-shot and a 
throwing club until he is uncannily 
accurate. I suggested bows and 
arrows to him and he only looked 
at me with that flat-lidded patience 
children assume in the face of adult 
stupidity, and informed me that 
bows ‘didn’t belong’ in the game.” 
“But — but we’re so secure! How 
could a whole world — ?” 

“Your despised s e c u r i t y,” 
smiled Mead. “As to a whole 
world — even you learned in your 
youth what happened to the world 
during the Dark Days — the rea- 
son why earth is not over-run with 
excess population today. I imagine 
before those days the teeming bil- 
lions couldn’t conceive of ‘how.’ 
“Something more. The girls have 
an interesting jumping rope rhy- 
thm-rhyme: 

Which do I get 

The cave or the grave? 

Lift joot, light foot 
Run to be saved. 

The cows and the sows 




BEFORE THE FACT 



67 




And the sheep and the rams 

All taste the blood 

Of the wqoly, white lambs. 

Fumble-y stumble-y 

Alas, my friend 

I run, I run 

It is the end. 

“Try analysing that little gem 
in one of your lack-luster hours. I 
asked Chica what it meant. She 
told me it didn’t mean anything.. 
Then she added ‘yet’ and couldn’t 
explain.” 

“Oh nonsense, nonsense!” cried 
Renwick. “You’re just like all the 
other hobbyists, reading world 
shattering significances into your 
particular craze. It makes a pretty 
story but don’t try to pass it off 
as the truth!” He stalked angrily 
to the window and back. 

Mead lifted his book from the 
arm of the chair and settled back. 
Placidly he thumbled through for 
his place and paused, one finger 
between the pages. 

“You’re frightened,” he said. “I 
don’t blame you. So am I. Most 
particularly since I asked the child- 
ren yesterday what they wanted to 
be when they grew up. They ex- 
changed patient, forebearing looks 
with one another. Stubby answered 
for them. 

“He said, ‘Alive’ 




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THE END 



68 



UNIVERSE 



Editorial 



★ 



{Continued from Page 8) 
you into unfamiliarity and shock. 
It must not tamper with your hap- 
piness; turn your mind into a mo- 
rass of unorthodoxy (such as psy- 
chiatry that isn’t psychiatry, but 
madness; psychological twists that 
NEVER happen in actuality, and 
if they do, are entirely unbeliev- 
able) insult your lack of education 
(if it can be called education). 

A pox on the “ivory tower”, the 
“sophisticate”, the “egotist”. All we 
want is science fiction for real, 
honest-to-gosh human beings, not 
freaks! And by heaven, that’s 
what we’ve been plagued with in 
the past three years. A bunch of 
freaks whose delusion is (and was, 
we hope) that they were “differ- 
ent and superior”, and therefore 
belonged in science fiction. 

Well, Ray Palmer and John 
Campbell aren’t different and su- 
perior, we’re just a couple of guys 
who were always just a couple of 
guys. That we’re as different as 
night and day from each other 
means nothing. Except that a 



good healthy difference of opinion 
is good for keeping on the toes; 
which is much different than 
“competition” designed specifically 
for “murder”. 

That’s why we say UNIVERSE is 
now the leading science fiction mag- 
azine. It’s only competition is a 
magazine that doesn’t compete, but 
complements. It works this way: 
You read UNIVERSE and get so 
darned interested you read Astound- 
ing — and that evolution takes 
twenty years. The final result is 
forty years of your life, and that’s 
all we ask! 

It works the other way too: If 

you read Astounding for twenty 
years, you’ll get so highly machin- 
ed you’ll want to go on a binge, 
and you’ll find it in UNIVERSE ! 

Proof? Well, can you name two 
guys who’ve been personalities for 
more than twenty years? We’re 
not just a magazine — we’re people! 
The other 98% of the population 
are just robots. And robots just 
don’t think! If they did, they’d 
be people, and we’d have to give 
them equal rights Or don’t you 
read science fiction . . . ! — Rap. 



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And so 
It was that 
Once upon a time 
There lived an old and 
Evil Professor who was very. 

Very fiendish. This was not good. 

But when he joined forces 
With Instructor McAwful, 

The whole world 
Trembled in 
Fear, 

FISSION STORY 

T. P. Caravan 

/^NCE upon a time (alas, part trees. And every year after the lec- 
part of this story is true) there ture was over the surviving stu- 
was an old and evil professor who dents would all be failed, 
professed many sciences and who Some years, of course, there 
was giving a lecture to his terrified would be no survivors, 
students. Now, this lecture was the It seemed that this was going to 
last lecture of the term, and it was be one of those years, for the pro- 
the professor’s most famous lecture fessor was at his best, which was 
of all. It was so famous that stu- identical with his worst. He had 
dents from every university with- howled and foamed at the mouth, 
in thousands of miles used to flee he had covered the blackboards 
in terror to the nearest hills, for with equations that had made them 
when he lectured this lecture dams burst into flame, he had turned 
used to break and earthquakes the janitor into a bat, he had 
used to quake and thunderstorms proved that beauty was a myth 
used to come and knock down pine and truth an. illusion, and he was 

69 




70 



UNIVERSE 



just getting warmed up when the 
interruption came. 

It didn’t come from the students, 
for they were all under their seats, 
quaking with fright; even the 
student named’ John, who was the 
best student in the school, for they 
all knew that this was the last lec- 
ture they would- ever attend. 

No: the interruption came from 
a stocky man who needed a shave 
and a bath. He came into the lec- 
ture room while the professor was 
in midleap, and he came strolling 
down the center aisle just as if the 
air were not filled with smoke and 
thunder, crying out; “Congratula- 
tions. McAwful has decided to ac- 
cept you in his project.” 

And when the professor heard 
this he was so surprised he floated 
gently down to the lecture plat- 
form and stopped talking. “Ek?” 
was all he could say. 

“McAwful is instructor in poli- 
tical science in this old and 
famous university,” the intruder 
said. “McAwful finds you show 
proper school spirit.” 'He held out 
a muddy hand. “McAwful is me.” 

And all the students peeped over 
the backs of their chairs and shud- 
dered, for they knew that McAwful 
was about to be murdered in some 
new and ingenious way; but to 
their surprise the old and evil pro- 
fessor was smiling mildly at him, 
so mildly that his fangs hardly 



showed, so mildly that a soft wind 
came and blew the smoke from the 
lecture room. “Political what?” 
asked the professor. 

“Political science,” answered 
McAwful, and even the frig-htened 
students chuckled. “Shake my 
muddy hands,” he said. 

“And what is political science?” 
asked the professor, and the stu- 
dents could see evil, like a small 
black ball, gathering itself at his 
back. 

“Political science,” answered 
McAwful, “as I practice it, is the 
body of knowledge which enables 
one to become ruler of this old and 
famous university. In particular it 
is the study of how to accuse one’s 
enemies in the faculty of lacking in 
school spirit. Shake my filthy hand.” 
And the old and evil professor 
drew himself up to be tern feet tall 
and he reached into the air while 
lighting flashed at his fingertips 
and around the lunatic fringe of his 
hair and he screeched once and 
bang! he brought the lightning 
down- on McAwful’s head. 

And then the old and evil profes- 
sor knew that he had met someone 
as evil as he, for McAwful merely 
smiled an unshaven smile. “Fire 
doesn’t bother old tail-gunner 
Joe,” said McAwful. “Old tail- 
gunner Joe is a hero, and’ he has 
sent in for medals to prove it.” 
“Please sir, who is old tail-gun- 




FISSION STORY 



71 



ner Joe?” asked one of the stu- 
dents. 

“Bless you child, old tail-gunner 
Joe is me,” answered McAwful. 
and he went to the window which 
overlooked the sea and pointed 
his finger at an airliner which was 
passing by. “Bing!” he said. The 
airplane turned upside down and 
rolled over three times and went 
splash! into the waves. “See?” 
said McAwful. “Probably full of 
spies.” 

“Golly,” said the student, look- 
ing at McAwful with worship in his 
eyes. “I don’t like your methods, 
but I must admit you get results. 
All those spies! Please sir, I was an 
aerial gunner once and I wonder if 
you can tell me what the rad lead 
is for a fighter in pursuit curve at 
an angle off of twenty two and a 
half degrees if your plane is doing 
two hundred and fifty. I forgot.” 

And McAwful looked at him and 
the student fell dead. 

“Another spy,” said McAwful. 
“You can always tell a spy.” 

How?” asked the student 
named John. 

“Anyone who disagrees with me 
is a spy, utterly lacking in school 
spirit, and he deserves all he gets,” 
answered McAwful, beginning to 
look at John as he had looked at 
the other student. 

But now the old and evil profes- 
sor had recovered from the shock 



he had received. “Stop,” he cried. 
“How dare you kill my students? 
Back to the politics department 
with you! The school of physical 
science is mine!” And the students 
all shouted agreement, for they 
preferred to be murdered by some- 
one they knew. 

And McAwful looked at the old 
and evil professor and handed him 
a cheese. “Here,” he said. “A gift.” 

“Poison?” asked the professor, 
somewhat mollified. 

“Naturally. Everything I touch 
turns to poison.” He grinned. “But 
I have bigger gifts for you, much 
bigger.” 

And the professor turned to the 
students. “Class dismissed,” he 
said. “Leave at once. All but 
John.” He bowed courteously to 
McAwful. “I hope you don’t mind 
if I test a bit of this valuable 
cheese: the scientific method, you 
know.” And the students, all but 
John, rushed frantically from the 
lecture hall and took to the hills. 
“Here, John,” said the professor, 
handing him the cheese. 

“Thank you,” said John, “but 
my wife doesn’t let me eat between 
meals.” He handed it back. “Sir,” 
he asked the unshaven intruder, 
“are you the Instructor McAwful 
who’s in charge of project Whim- 
per?” 

“I am.” said McAwful, smiling, 
smiling, always smiling. “And that 




72 



UNIVERSE 



is what I came here for.” He looked 
at the old and evil professor. “Co- 
operate with me,” he said, “and I’ll 
make you head of the scientific di- 
vision. And this is a great honor, 
for McAwful has searched through 
the entire faculty of this old and 
famous university to find a man 
who can be trusted with the task.” 

“But,” said the old and evil pro- 
fessor, “What is Project Whim- 
per?” 

“Ah,” said McAwful. “It is the 
old and famous unversity’s private 
atomic bomb project. I have dis- 
covered that every man on the job 
was a spy, lacking the proper 
school spirit, and I have also dis- 
covered that every other member 
of the department of political sci- 
ence was also a spy: consequently 
I have taken over the great task of 
leading the project. If you agree 
to cooperate with me, I am sure 
that McAwful can find all the 
other professors of science are un- 
reliable. Yes: McAwful can prove 
that none of them are true sup- 
porters of the football team.” 

Now, when John heard this, he 
sat down bewildered on the floor, 
for he knew that the old and evil 
professor was the only spy in the 
entire old and famous university 
and that he had been selling the 
university’s secret plays to a rival 
university for many years, and 
that, of all professors, the old and 



evil one was the one who least sup- 
ported the football team: In fact 
one of his hobbies was murdering 
quarterbacks and putting drugs in 
the linemen’s food to make them 
lose weight. 

“I accept,” said the old and evil 
professor, smiling a secret smile to 
himself; for he knew that, al- 
though McAwful was as evil as he, 
he was less wily and could be 
tricked. “What do you wish me to 
do.?” 

And they put their evil heads to- 
gether and plotted. When they had 
finished plotting, McAwful shook 
hands with the professor (but not 
with John) and scurried from the 
room to accuse his enemies of lack- 
ing school spirit. You could watch 
from the window that overlook- 
ed the campus and see how he left 
a small trail of smoke behind him 
as he ripped books from the stu- 
dents’ hands and set them afire. 
Faintly his voice floated into the 
lecture hall: “Books! What do you 
need with books when I’m here to 
tell you what to think?” 

But he did not know he had 
plotted right into the old and evil 
professor’s old and evil hands. 
“Come, John,” said the professor. 
“We have work to do, pleasant 
work.” And John shuddered, for he 
knew that the only work the pro- 
fessor considered pleasant was try- 
ing to end the world. “I have been 




FISSION STORY 



73 



trying for a long time to get on 
Project Whimper.” And he laugh- 
ed, “Yeek, yeek.” And his laughter 
mingled with the crackle of burning 
books. “McAwful is accusing the 
people who have been trying to 
stop me. Come, John, in the name 
of science!” 

But even the name of science 
would not make John join the 
professor in his old and evil 
schemes. “No,” ihe said. “Ninety- 
eight point six times No.” 

But the professor was a genius 
(so, by the way, was John and so 
was John’s wife (and so was nearly 
everybody else at the old and 
famous university except the foot- 
ball players (and, of course, Mc- 
Awful (who was merely evil)))) 
and consequently he knew how to 
overcome John’s school spirit. 
“Come, John,” he said, “and be my 
lab assistant on the project and I 
will not flunk you. You will grad- 
uate!” And of course John had to 
accept, for he had been twelve 
years at the old and famous univer- 
sity trying to get his degree: he 

had to accept even though he knew 
that the end of the world was com- 
ing as soon as the project was over. 
That’s the way students are. All 
but football players: they never 
graduate if they can help it. 

But they never help end the 
world, either. 

Anyhow, John acted as the old 



and evil professor’s lab assistant 
for three days while the old and 
evil professor studied the atomic 
bomb the school had developed. 
“Yeek,” cried the old and evil pro- 
fessor at the end of this period, 
“take this down, John.” And he 
dictated a long and obscure for- 
mula, full of minuses and pluses 
and sigmas and thetas and x’s and 
iambic pentameters and roots and 
coefficients and similar scientific 
rubbish. “Do you know what this 
is, John? This is the formula for a 
self-perpetuating chain reaction. 
When the bomb is set off it will 
set off the surrounding air which 
will set off the rest of the atmos- 
phere and the rest of the earth and 
the earth will set up fission in the 
entire solar system and boom! 
there goes your gala.xy!” And he 
leaped up and down, trampling on 
his beard in his joy. “I have de- 
stroyed the universe!” 

Oh, he was happy. 

“Take the formula home, John, 
and don’t lose it.” And John took 
it home and didn’t lose it, for he 
knew that a scientist was not re- 
sponsible for the results of his sci- 
entific work: there are some who 
disagree with this idea, and in some 
universities they are shot, while in 
others, like the old and famous uni- 
versity where this story takes 
place, they are merely considered 
eccentric and perhaps lacking in 




74 



UNIVERSE 



school spirit. He didn’t lose it, but 
he showed it to his wife, who look- 
ed at the formula and kissed him 
in delight. 

This puzzled him but he liked it. 

Time passed. Graduation day 
came. John graduated. People 
cheered. The old and evil professor 
laughed. McAwful got his picture 
in the paper, kissing a baby. The 
baby, no doubt a spy, died. John 
ihanded his diploma to his wife. 
“Put it in a safe place,” he said. 
“We’re going to destroy the uni- 
verse this afternoon.” She kissed 
him again. And off everybody 
rushed to watch the bomb tested. 

John and the professor and the 
bomb sat in a small room in a 
large tower while John fed the 
formula into a computer which 
typed a tape which operated a ser- 
vomechanism which twirled a tool 
which made a small machine which 
the professor placed near the bomb. 

And McAwful ran around below 
taking credit for everything in- 
cluding the football team’s record 
for the last ninety-eight point six 
years. 

“Now,” said the professor. “It’s 
ready. Yeek! Self-perpetuating. 
One explosion setting off another. 
Forever! As long as there’s any- 
thing left to explode!” And he 
danced happily on the casing of 
the bomb. “It goes off in three 
minutes. Better get to a safe 



place.” And he doubled over with 
his evil laughter, for there would 
be no place anyplace which would 
not explode along with the bomb. 
“Come,” he said, and they rushed 
from the tower, the professor tak- 
ing great leaps like a vile kangaroo, 
his great ears flapping in the 
breeze. 

“Two minutes,” he cried as they 
reached the watching crowd. IMc- 
Awful slung great heaps of mud in 
all directions to celebrate. John 
shuddered. John’s wife laughed. 

“One minute.” screeched the pro- 
fessor. “Oooh.” said John. “Time’s 
up,” said the professor. 

“Sizz,” went the bomb. “Click,” 
and it sat there, not exploding. And 
the universe continued on its way, 
not being destroyed. “Spies,” 
shouted McAwful, and for once 

he was right, though he didn’t 
know it. 

And then John’s wife went over 

to the president of the old and 

famous university who was trying 
to scrape some of McAwful’s mud 
out of his hair, and she whispered 
into his dignified ear and he went 
over to the old and evil and frus- 
trated professor and shook his 
bewildered hand. “It works,” he 
said. 

“Works!” cried the old scholar 
in anguish. 

And the president took the for- 
mula and spread it out on the 




FISSION STORY 



75 



ground. “Joy!” he cried. “A per- 
fect defense against atomic bombs. 
Joy!” 

“But . . .” said John as his wife 
drew him aside. 

“Listen,” she said. “It was a 
formula to make the fission pro- 
ducts set off fission in the sur- 
rounding enviroment, and make 
those new fission products set off 
more fission, and so on, wasn’t it? 
The way a fire in the open air sets 
fire to anything around it and that 
new fire spreads out in the same 
way? Wasn’t it?” 

“Sure,” said John, “But why 
didn’t it work?” 

“Listen,” she said. “What’s the 
opposite of that? A formula to 
make the fission products damp 



out any fission starting around 
them, the way a fire in a closed 
room uses up the oxygen and puts 
itself out along with any other 
fires in the room.” She smiled. “I 
simply turned the formula into its 
opposite.” 

“But how?” asked John, who 
now and then forgot his wdfe was a 
genius. 

“Easy,” she said. “I changed all 
the minuses to plus and all the 
pluses to minus.” And they ran in 
happy circles around each other 
while the old and evil professor 
writhed on the ground and 
chewed huge rocks into gravel and 
McAwful, as soon as he found out 
what had been invented, took all 
the credit. 



THE END 



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I THE 
I SANTA 
I CLAUS 
[ PLANET 

I By Frank M. Robinson 

I What could be more 
p appropriate than to spend 
I Christmas on The Santa 
t Claus Planet? But here, 
1 the crew of the 
= Churchill found, the 
I Giving of Gifts had 
1 sinister meanings not 
1 usually associated with 
1 the Christmas Spirit. 



CCT THINK the town is over this 

-Lway, sir,” Hawsworthy said, 
his words coming out in little puffs 
of steam. 

Leftenant Harkins waited until 
there was a brief calm in the flur- 
ries of snow whirling about him, 
then shielded his eyes and stared 
in the direction that Hawsworthy 
had pointed. There was a small 
cluster of lights in the distance — 
a good two or three snowy miles 
away, he }udged sourly — that 
couldn’t be anything but the twink- 
ling lights of some primitive vil- 
lage. 

He sighed and pulled the collar 
of his heav\' tunic tighter around 
his neck, then turned for a last look 
at the Churchill, the sleek and 
shiny line cruiser bulking huge in 
the valley a few hundred yards to 
the rear. Her ports were radiating 
a cozy, yellow warmth and he could 
catch glimpses of her officers and 
enlisted men standing around the 
brightly bedecked tree in the main 
lounge. He even fancied that he 
could hear the strains of Cantique 
Nod and smell the hot spicy odor 
of the wassail drifting up on the 
cold, sharp air. 

Christmas Eve . . . 

He bit his thin lips in disappoint- 
ment. Outside in the cold on a 
fool’s errand while inside the 
Churchill the Christmas celebration 
was just getting started. He had 



76 



THE SANTA CLAUS PLANET 



done the best he could in making 
arrangements with Ensign Jarvis to 
save him some of the wassail, but 
knowing Jarvis’ own enthusiasm 
for the monthly liquor ration, they 
were shaky arrangements at best. 

A sudden gust of snow hid the 
ship, and he and Hawsworthy 
wheeled and started trudging to- 
wards the faint glow on the hori- 
zon. 

It was traditional in the service, 
Harkins thought, to set the ship 
down on some hospitable planet for 
Christmas. Christmas wasn’t 
Christmas without the solid feel- 
ing of the good earth under you 
and the smell of pine and the soft 
mistiness of snow drifting gently 
down from the sky. 

Naturally, there had been a lot 
of enthusiasm aboard ship. The 
commissary had been busy all week 
filling the ship with the appetizing 
odors of synthetic roast goose and 
plum pudding and the pleasant 
spiciness of fruit cakes. And the 
carpentry shop had spent many a 
hard afternoon building the tree 
out of fine dowels and daubing it 
with green paint, just in case they 
were unable to obtain the genuine 
article. 

Then — only an hour ago, Har- 
kins thought bitterly — the captain 
had asked to see him and his own 
personal enthusiasm had collapsed 
like a pricked balloon. 



77 

The captain had discovered that 
the planet supported a human cul- 
ture, so it was naturally incuipbent 
on the Churchill to send forth a de- 
putation to invite members of the 
Terran speaking community — if 
any — aboard to celebrate Christ- 
mas with the crew, present the 
ship’s credentials to the powers 
that might be, and try and arrange 
for possible planet leave. 

And as he had once dabbled in 
anthropology, the deputation was 
to be made in the person of Leften- 
ant Junior Grade Harkins. Which 
meant that he would miss most of 
the celebration. On top of that, he 
had drawn Hawsworthy for an as- 
sistant. (There was nothing wrong 
with Hawsworthy, of course, ex- 
cept that he had an amazing talent 
for making you feel ill at ease and 
unsure of yourself. He was a 
twenty-year man and you always 
suspected that his feelings towards 
the junior grades were composed 
more of toleration than respect.) 

“It can’t be much further, sir. I 
think I can make out some of the 
buildings.” The lights of the 
town were considerably nearer now 
and the rough shapes of small 
houses had begun to separate them- 
selves from the snow-filled black- 
ness. 

A fool’s errand, Harkins thought 
for the twentieth time. The records 




UNIVERSE 



78 

showed that the people were noth- 
ing but primitives, but that hadn’t 
prevented the captain from doing 
“the decent thing” and sending out 
a representative anyways. Tradi- 
tion. The people were probably 
fish-eaters, however, and anj^ auth- 
ority to which he might present the 
ship’s credentials undoubtedly re- 
sided in the painted and scarred 
body of the village witch doctor, 
probably hiding under his cooking 
pot right now. 

Then they were on the summit 
of the last hill before the town, 
gazing down at the village below; 
a village where the streets were 
neatly laid out, the houses were a 
large cut above the usual thatclied 
or skin affair, and primitive arc- 
lamps were strung across the snowy 
streets. 

Harkins felt uneasy. It wasn’t at 
all as primitive as it should be. 

They walked into the seemingly 
deserted town and had proceeded a 
few blocks when Hawsworthy sud- 
denly stopped and pulled out his 
pistol. “Something’s coming, Left- 
enant.” 

Harkins’ heart rose into his 
mouth. There was a measured tread 
of feet down a side street, and a 
moment later a procession marched 
into view. Four natives dressed in 
rich furs were in the van and be- 
hind them carpe an opulently de- 
cor.ated sle’gh, pulled by a large, 



splay-footed animal. The proces- 
sion halted and the four natives in 
front bowed low before Harkins 
and Hawsworthy. 

For the first time, Harkins no- 
ticed that they were carrying what 
were obviously meant to be gifts. 
Huge, circular sheets of beaten 
copper with crude designs hammer- 
ed in them, and hampers containing 
what looked like not-too-recently 
slaughtered carcasses of alley-cats. 
The native straightened up and 
preferred the gifts, then backed 
away, obviously expectant. 

Harkins accepted the gifts, awk- 
wardly, after which there was a 
long and increasingly heavy silence. 
Finally a voice from within the 
sleigh spoke. 

“Don’t just stand there — destroy 
the gifts, then hand them your 
pistols.” 

Harkins gasped. The voice spoke 
his own tongue excellently. 

Hawsworthy chewed his lower lip 
and looked bellingerently. “If we 
do, sir, we’ll be unarmed and at 
their mercy. I wouldn’t advise it.” 

“Please show yourself,” Harkins 
said to the curtained sleigh. 

The curtains parted and a man 
stepped out. He was plump and be- 
trayed the usual signs of easy liv- 
ing but his eyes were alive and his 
face showed a familiar ruddiness. 
The Terran type, Harkins thought 
amazed; he showed it distinctly. 




THE SANTA CLAUS PLANET 



79 



“Do as I tell you and nothing 
will happen to you,” the man 
urged. 

“We would like to see \mur 
ruler,” Harkins said stifflj^, think- 
ing of an alternative. 

The fat man put his hands on his 
hips and cocked his head at them. 
“You’re looking at him. The 
name’s Harry Reynolds and I run 
this planet — at least, this small 
section of it.” 

Harkins digested this in silence, 
then awoke to his responsibilities 
as a representative of the Churchill 
and introduced himself and Haws- 
worthy. 

“You’re sure no harm will come 
of this?” 

“My word,” Reynolds said ex- 
pansively. 

Harkins pondered for a moment, 
then flamed the copper shields and 
the hampers and handed over his 
pistol. Hawsworthy did the same. 
The natives smiled, stripped the 
cartridges from the pistols, broke 
the plastic barrels, and finally 
bowed low and withdrew. 

It was then that it occurred to 
Harkins that tilings were looking 
up. The natives were friendly, a 
Terrestrial was running things, and 
chances for planet leave looked 
highly probable. 

Then another thought hit him. 
He turned to Reynolds and saluted. 
“Sir, the officers and men of the 



Churchill would be highly compli- 
mented if you consented to cele- 
brate Christmas with them on 
board ship. 

Reynolds accepted with alacrity 
and Harkins gestured to the sleigh, 
“I’d suggest using jmur sleigh, sir; 
We’d save time.” 

Later, seated on the warm 
cushions of the sleigh and skimm- 
ing over the countryside, Harkins 
reflected proudly that his com- 
mandeering of the sleigh was a 
master stroke. Hawsworthy was 
duly impressed with his quick 
thinking, and it looked highly pos- 
sible that they’d get back to the 
ship before Jarvis had had a chance 
to consume all the w’assail. 

It was going to be a pleasant 
evening at that, he thought, and 
not the least of its pleasantness was 
going to be when he pinned Rey- 
nolds down and found out just how 
he happened to be running things. 

He looked at Reynolds’ ruddy 
face out of the corner of his eye. 
There was probably quite a story 
to it. 

Back in the Churchill, the jun- 
ior grades soon had Reynolds sur- 
rounded. 

“What do you call this planet, 
Mr. Reynolds?” Jarvis asked, glass 
in hand. (Something different than 
the numbers and letters the maps 
give it, I imagine.” 




8o 



UNIVERSE 



Reynolds ran a finger down the 
side of his nose and looked thought- 
ful. “The first few weeks I was 
there, I thought that I would call it 
the “Santa Claiis Planet.” 

Jarvis looked puzzled. “The 
Santa Claus Planet?” 

“Yes. You see, the natives had 
made quite a ceremony out of giv- 
gifts — but that’s all part of the 
story.” 

Harkins seized the opening. 
“Tell us about it. Back in the town, 
you said you ran this section of the 
planet. I couldn’t help but wonder 
just how you did it.” 

Reynolds filled his glass again. 
“You can chalk it up to imagina- 
tion and quite a dose of plain, dumb 
luck. It started about thirty years 
ago, when I was returning to Can- 
opus from a business trip. My 
tubes blew and I had to make a 
forced landing on the planet. Na- 
turally, I was stranded until I 
could make repairs . . .” 

>): = 1 = * 

Reynolds groaned and slowly 
opened his eyes. The cabin seemed 
to be spinning tightly around him 
and he fought for control of his 
stomach, then gave up the struggle 
and turned on his side and let 
everything come up. After that, the 
feeling of nausea gradually passed 
and the cabin settled down, but it 
settled at a -thirty-degree slant. He 
vaguely recalled the crash and 



rolled his eyes slightly to take in 
all of the cabin. What loose equip- 
ment and furnishings there were 
had been swept down the inclined 
deck to come to a rest in a broken, 
jumbled mass against the far bulk- 
head; he couldn’t tell what other 
damage there might be but thin 
curls of blue smoke were drifting 
up from the engine room — the 
slightly acrid smoke of burning in- 
sulation. 

But the ship was still whole, he 
thought grimly, and «he was still 
alive, which was a wonder consider- 
ing that he had been juggled 
around the inside of the rocket like 
a pair of dice in a shaker. He 
moved one arm experimentally and 
then the other. They were stiff and 
sore, and blood had dried on a few 
nasty looking cuts, but no bones 
were broken. 

The feeling of nausea hit him 
again and he retched, then gathered 
his courage and staggered to his 
rubbery legs. The port on the side 
of the cabin nearest the ground 
was shattered and fresh, cool air 
was blowing through the opening. 
It smelled good and helped clear 
more of the cobwebs from his head. 
Inspection of the hatch a moment 
later showed that it was hopelessly 
stuck so he found a broken hand- 
rail and laboriously battered out 
the fragments of quartz still in the 
port, then painfully crawled 




THE SANTA CLAUS PLANET 



through and dropped to the grassy 
ground below. ^ 

He lay where he had fallen for a 
while, collecting his strength, then 
stumbled over to a stream not 
far from the ship. Half his shirt 
served as a wash-rag to help scrub 
off the grease and grime and clean 
his wounds; out of the other half 
he made crude bandages. He was 
gasping from weariness when he 
finished and slumped down on the 
bank to take stock of his situation. 

The task of repairing the ship 
wasn’t an impossible one — ^maybe 
two weeks, maybe less. In the 
meantime, he was stranded on the 
planet. 

He found a phosphorous tipped 
cigarette in his pants and drew in 
on it, watching the tip turn to a 
cherry red coal. 

Stranded. 

But he couldn’t have been 
stranded in a better place, he rea- 
soned. He had crashed in a low, 
broad valley with the stream run- 
ning through the center of it. A 
carpet of grass dotted with the pink 
of some alien flower covered most 
of the ground, while surrounding 
the valley were low hills and forests 
of huge, fern-like trees. The wea- 
ther seemed warm and temperate 
and the sky was a rich, tropical 
blue, with fleecy shreds of clouds 
drifting slowly by. 

He brushed a lock of thinning 



8i 

black hair away from the bandage 
wrapped around his head and 
frowned. According to his star map, 
the natives were human — probably 
the degenerate remnants of those 
who had colonized the planet hun- 
dreds of years ago — ’but friendly. 

At least they better be, he 
thought; there weren’t any wea- 
pons on board ship to speak of. 

The warm sun made him drowzy 
and he let his thoughts wander 
where they would. Two weeks here 
and then off to Canopus where a 
somewhat shrewish wife and his 
small sickly daughter would un- 
doubtedly demand a long and de- 
tailed explanation of what had 
kept him. They would probably re- 
fuse to believe the truthful 
story about blown tubes so he 
would have to devote a part 
of his next two weeks to fabricating 
a wildly implausible and slightly 
incriminating story that they would 
believe. 

But until then he had two weeks 
of hard work and solitude ahead of 
him. In a way, a very pleasant va- 
cation. 

He plucked a blade of green 
grass from the side of the bank 
and chewed on it for a while 
The work could commence tomor- 
row; he’d have to rest and recu- 
perate today. 

He turned on his side and dozed 
the rest of the day. 




82 



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The sun had barely risen the 
next morning when Reynolds was 
up and and inspecting the damage 
done to the ship. The bottom jets 
were fused and crumpled, the gen- 
erators would have to be rewound, 
and stanchions and handrails and 
brackets on the inside would have 
to be welded back in place. 

He got a shovel from inside the 
ship and walked around to the tube 
assembly, the dew on the grass 
dampening his canvas work shoes. 
It might be wise, he thought, to dig 
a hole under the rear jets, leaving 
the rockets balanced on a ridge of 
earth, so be could get at them. That 
would be the biggest job and the 
most difficult, and next to the gen- 
erators, the most important. 

He shifted awkwardly in his 
overalls, then pushed the shovel in- 
to the ground, heaved, and threw 
the dirt over his shoulders. The 
dirt was rich, fertile looking loam 
which looked like it had never 
been farmed. The people were prob- 
ably strictl}' a hunting society . . . 

The sun was hot and he found 
he had to take frequent rests from 
the digging. He had never been the 
muscular type in the first place and 
with his arms as sore as they were, 
it was tough going. But by noon, he 
had worked himself into a pit about 
waist-level and by late afternoon, 
he was shoulder-deep. He had long 
since taken off his heavy, twiU 



work shirt and the sweat had 
soaked into his undershirt and 
burned into some of the cuts that 
hadn’t healed yet. 

There were two feet to go before 
the tubes would be completely un- 
earthed, but he had to rest. He 
ached in a million places and blis- 
ters had formed, broken, and fest- 
ered on his swollen hands. He put 
the shovel to one side and sank 
quietly down on the cool dirt. 

Five minutes later there was the 
quiet pad of feet above him and a 
soft voice said: “We bring presents 
for the man from the rocket.” 

He looked up, startled, his hand 
clutching the shovel for a possible 
weapon. 

Then were three of them at the 
top of the pit. Two of them were 
hawk-eyed, bronzed men, dressed 
in richly decorated animal hides. 
They were inspecting him curious- 
ly, but not with the curiosity of na- 
tives who had never seen strangers 
before. Reynolds guessed, and 
rightly, that there had been visitors 
to the planet in the past. 

The third member of the party — 
the one who had spoken to him and 
apparently the only one who under- 
stood his language — ^was a rather 
pretty girl with the soft, rounded 
features that so many native girls 
seemed to have. He looked at her 
with more than casual interest, 
noting that her skirt was of ma- 




THE SANTA CLAUS PLANET 



chine made cloth, probably the 
bottom half of a mother hubbard 
that wandering missionaries among 
the stars like to clothe their bea- 
then charges in. She had discarded 
the upper half of the garment, ap- 
parently preferring the sunshine 
and freedom. 

Reynolds climbed to the top of 
the pit and made a half bow, then 
showed that his hands were empty. 
(What the devil did you do in a 
case like this?) The men were car- 
rying what he supposed were gifts: 
thin shields of beaten copper with 
crude native designs hammered on 
them, a few blankets made up of 
thick furs, and baskets full of 
freshly slaughtered meat that 
didn’t look at all appetizing. 

The men set the gifts on the 
ground in front of them, then step- 
ped back with malicious smiles on 
their faces. They chattered for a 
moment to the girl in their native 
language. 

“These are the challenge gifts 
of my people, the Mantanai,” she 
intoned ritualistically, her face 
solemn. “We shall return tomorrow 
to accept what you give in return.” 

Reynolds had a feeling that he 
wasn’t supposed to benefit by the 
gifts. 

“What do you mean ‘challenge 
gifts?’ ” he asked. 

She looked like she was going 
to explain, then changed her mind 



83 

and gave a short shake to her head. 

Reynolds felt the tension build 
up in him. Her attitude confirmed 
his opinion that he was going to be 
in for a difficult time. 

The girl turned to leave with the 
men. 

“Wait aminute,” Reynolds asked 
softly. “Is there a Father around?” 

She shook her head again and 
Reynolds thought there was a trace 
of pity in her eyes. 

“No,” she said. “The good 
Father has returned to the skies.” 

He had a hunch that she didn’t 
mean the Father had left the 
planet in the usual manner. 

“What happened to him?” 

She hestitated a moment and he 
could feel the slow ooze of sweat on 
his forehead. Behind her, the other 
two natives were frowning and 
shaking their heads with impati- 
ence. 

“He — didn’t win the game of the 
Giving of Gifts.” 

Reynolds cooked his supper over 
a campfire beside the ship but he 
had lost most of his appetite and 
didn’t eat much. The gifts from the 
natives were Greek gifts, he 
thought. There was something omi- 
nous about them, something far 
different than the friendliness that 
usually prompted gift giving. 

He worried about it for a while, 
then turned into his crude bed of 




UNIVERSE 



84 

blankets and air mattress. There 
was a lot of work to be done the 
next day, natives or no, and he 
needed his sleep. 

He had just started to doze off 
when he heard the stealthy foot- 
steps of something moving just be- 
yond the dim circle of light cast 
by the glowing coals of the fire. 
The sounds came nearer and he 
pointed his electric torch in the 
direction of the quiet rustling and 
flicked the switch. 

The girl stood there, blinded by 
the glare of the light. 

“What do you want?” he asked 
harshly. 

She wet her lips nervously. “The 
good Father was kind to me,” she 
said, almost in a whisper. “You 
reminded me of him.” 

Primitive tribes usually had 
little regard for their women, he 
thought, outside of the children 
they might bear or the work they 
could do in the fields or in making 
clothing for the men. The Father’s 
kindnesses had apparently made 
quite an impression on her. 

“What’s that got to do with 
coming here?” 

“I thought that I would tell you 
about the Giving of Gifts,” she 
said. “I thought that you would 
like to know.” 

That was damn sweet of her, he 
thought cynically — then softened a 
bit. She was probably running quite 



a risk in coming to him. 

“Tell me about it,” he said 
gently. 

She sat down beside him, the 
light from the coals catching the 
highlights of her body. 

“Father William used to say that 
my people, the Mantanai, were the 
original capitalists,” she started, 
pronouncing the word uncertainly. 
“That to us, coppers and furs and 
grain weren’t the means to an end, 
but an end in itself. That we liked 
to accumulate wealth merely to 
play games with it and because it 
brought — prestige.” 

She was parroting Father Wil- 
liam’s words, he realized; they 
meant little to her but she was con- 
fident that they meant a lot to him. 

“What kind of games?” 

She thought for a minute, trying 
to find a way to phrase it. “We use 
our coppers and furs in duels,” she 
said slowly. “Perhaps one chief will 
give a feast for another and pre- 
sent him with many coppers and 
blankets. Unless the other chief 
destroys the gifts and gives a feast 
in return, at which he presents the 
first chief with even greater gifts, 
he loses honor.” 

He was beginning to see, Rey- 
nolds thought. The custom of con- 
spicuous waste, to show how 
wealthy the possessor was. Enemies 
dueled with property, instead of 
with pistols, and the duel would 




THE SANTA CLAUS PLANET 



obviously go back and forth until 
one or the other of its participants 
was bankrupt — or unwilling to risk 
more goods. A rather appropriate 
custom for a planet as lush as this. 

“What if one of the chiefs goes 
broke,” he said, explaining the 
term. 

“If the winning chief demands it, 
the other can be put to death. He 
is forced to drink the Last Cup, a 
poison which turns his bones to 
jelly. The days go by and he gets 
weaker and softer until finally he 
is nothing but a — ^ball.” She des- 
cribed this with a good deal of 
hand waving and facial animation, 
which Reynolds found singularly 
attractive in spite of the gruesome- 
ness of the topic. 

“What if a stranger like myself 
is concerned?” 

She looked at him sadly. “Then 
the pride of the tribe is at stake — 
and the penalty for losing is always 
death.” 

He digested this in silence, “Is 
that the only way they use their 
wealth.” 

She shook her head. “No. They 
use it for buying a wife or a house 
or in paying for a grandson.” 

She started looking anxiously 
over her shoulder and he could 
sense her fear of discovery growing, 
overcoming her memories of the 
kindness of Father Williams. He 
quickly steered the conversation 



8S 

into other channels and found out, 
among other things, that Father 
Williams had given her the Chris- 
tian name of Ruth. He idly won- 
dered what it would have been if 
Father Williams had been a Budd- 
hist or a Mohammedan. At length 
she arose to go. 

“You’ll come back again some 
other night, won’t you?” Reynolds 
asked wistfully, suddenly realiz- 
ing how lonely it was to be in a 
dangerous situation and have no- 
body you could talk to. 

She hestitated, then flashed him 
a quick smile and fled into the 
darkness. 

After she had left, Reynolds 
mused about his position with, a 
sinking heart. They’d be back to- 
morrow and he’d have to present 
them with gifts that they consider- 
ed superior to what they had given 
him. But he had nothing extra, 
nothing that he could actually 
spare. 

The only solution — and it was 
only a stop-gap solution, he real- 
ized somberly — was to gradually 
strip the ship and hope that he 
had her fixed and ready for flight 
before the deadly game had reach- 
ed its climax. 

The native representatives and 
Ruth were back the next day, 
along with a large crowd of curious 
onlookers. Reynolds waited inside 
the ship until they had begun to 




86 



UNIVERSE 



grow restless, then stepped out 
carrying his presents. 

But there was a ritual to be fol- 
lowed first. He had built a bonfire 
earlier that morning and he now 
lighted it. Then he dragged forth 
the furs and the hampers of meat 
and the coppers they had been 
given the previous day. He faced 
the crowd and held up. the meat 
contemptuously, then flung it on 
the fire. The representatives 
flushed, but there was an approv- 
ing murmur from the crowd. The 
furs he looked at scornfully, then 
tore the stitches where they had 
been sewn together and tossed 
them into the flames. The sheet of 
beaten coppers, which he had pre- 
viously weakened with acid, he 
broke into small pieces over his 
knee and cast them after the furs. 
The crowd roared approval but 
Reynolds had no illusion as to their 
temper. They liked a good “game” 
but they had no doubt as to what 
its conclusion would be. 

He gestured to Ruth to come 
over and translate for him to the 
two red-faced representatives. His 
voice was loud enough so the crowd 
could catch the scorn in it, though 
they didn’t understand the words. 

“Tell them that the Mantanaii 
bring children’s gifts, that they are 
not fit to accept; that their tribe 
must indeed be poor if this is all 
they can afford. Tell them the gifts 



I shall give them will make theirs 
look like the castoffs of beggars.” 

Then he started enumerating his 
own gifts in turn. One air mattress, 
two wool blankets, a chair of stain- 
less tublar steel. He hesitated. 
There wasn’t a sound from the 
crowd, so he continued adding to 
the pile. A white twill space uni- 
form, a chest of exquisite silver he 
had meant as a gift for his wife, 
and a set of pale, translucent pot- 
tery he had picked up on Altai r. 
The crowd was murmuring now, 
impressed. Finally, with a show of 
disdain, he threw on a sleek, -black 
jacket of heavy, shiny leather. 

Once again the crowd roared ap- 
proval, then started to drift away. 
Ruth nodded slightly; for the 
moment he had won. But only for 
the moment. 

He worked furiously all after- 
noon and long into the night, his 
welding torch a bright spot of white 
in the blackness. How much time 
he had left, he didn’t know. But it 
wouldn’t be much. 

The next morning he was 
awaken by the clamor of the crowd 
outside the rocket. The natives and 
a haggard Ruth were waiting for 
him, along with a file of men 
carrying heavy bundles. 

The challenge gifts for the day 
had arrived. 

It was a week since he had 




THE SANTA CLAUS PLANET 



87 



crashed on the planet, Reynolds 
thought jitterily, and despite work- 
ing practically every waking hour, 
the job of repairing the ship was 
still only half done. 

And the deadly game had pro- 
gressed apace. 

Everything not absolutely essen- 
tial to the operating of the ship 
had gone. Stanchions, railings, 
ladders — every bit of shiny, glit- 
tering metal that he had thought 
might appeal to the native eye as 
being of value. And then all' the 
dishes, the linens, his voco-writer, 
and most of his clothing had fol- 
lowed. All delivered to the prop- 
erty crazy natives who had looked 
them over curiously, then destroy- 
ed them to show how worthless the 
items were in comparison with their 
on wealth. 

And in return, what had he 
done? How many coppers and 
furs and blankets had he been for- 
ced to destroy? And it meant noth- 
ing to the natives because the 
planet was so lush that there was 
much, much more where that had 
come from. 

It was the contents of his ship 
against the resources of a planet 
and there wasn’t the slightest doubt 
as to how it would turn out. 

“I’ve stripped the ship,” he 
said quietly. 

Ruth moved closer to the fire, 
the yellow light playing on her 



smooth, tan skin. 

“I know,” she said. “You’ve lost 
the game.” 

He couldn’t have done much bet- 
ter, though, he thought grimly. He 
had played out what he had as well 
as he could, analyzing the native 
sense of values so he had some idea 
of what they attached worth to. 

“When will they come for me?” 
he asked dryly. 

She was staring into the fire, the 
leaping flames reflected in her 
green eyes. 

“Tomorrow, maybe the next 
day. And then next week you will 
be nothing but . . .” She left the 
sentence unfinished and gave an 
expressive shudder instead. 

Reynolds felt a little sick with 
fear. There was no way out. If he 
ran away, he would be running 
away from his ship and all chance 
of ever getting home. His chances 
of surviving alone on the planet 
would be slim anyways. 

“My father will be here tomor- 
row to watch,” Ruth said. 

“Your father?” 

She showed her teeth. “My 
father. The tribal chief, the weal- 
thiest man in the village. 

They were all turning out, he 
thought, to watch Reynolds enter- 
tain at the big celebration. 

Then he caught the look on her 
face and tried to forget his trou- 
bles. She wasn’t having an easy 




88 



UNIVERSE 



time of it, risking her' life to 
give him information and do what 
little she could for him. 

“How did Father Williams ever 
get into this mess?” he asked. 

“When he first came here,” she 
said, “there was a big sickness. 
Father Williams helped the Man- 
tanai and my father let him 
clothe me and teach me your lan- 
guage. But after a few years they 
forget and made Father Williams 
play the game of the Giving of 
Gifts,” She paused, and then re- 
peated: “He was very kind to me.” 

If he ever got out of it alive, 
Reynolds thought, he’d build a 
monument someplace to the mem- 
ory of Father Williams. 

The clearing around the ship was 
jammed the next morning, natives 
of all shapes and sizes jockeying 
for position to see Reynolds’ final 
humbling and open admittance of 
the wealth of their tribe. As inter- 
ested as brokers on the floor of the 
stock exchange watching the quo- 
tations on the board, Reynolds 
thought dryly. He wondered how 
some of the natives would do if they 
were suddenly transferred to his 
own society. With their lust for 
wealth and shrewdness at mani- 
pulating it, they would probably 
own the universe within a year. 

As. usual, he had a bonfire al- 
ready to light. Then he made a 



great show at stacking the mounds 
of coppers and furs and tanned 
skins and the hampers of food; 
probably enough to feed and clothe 
the village for a month, he reflect- 
ed. 

“The people of the Mantanai 
are mighty,”, he intoned solemnly, 
Ruth translating, “and their feats 
at trapping the arapai are sung in 
hunting songs passed from father 
to son.” He picked up several of 
the thick, luxurious furs lying on 
one of the piles. “But these can- 
not be tihe pelts of the arapai; 
rather, they are the thin and smelly 
hides of the wood rat,” And he 
threw the pelts scornfully into the 
flames, followed them up with the 
others in the stack. The crowd 
“ohed” and Reynolds knew the 
chief’s face was burning. 

He picked up one of the huge 
sheets of copper next. 

“I have heard tales of the mighty 
value of the Copper-oj-Many-Suns, 
and have heard its praises from 
many throats. But why then, did 
you not bring it to me? Why this 
ugly imitation that would not fool 
a child of six, this piece of ham- 
mered hunswah?” He broke it in- 
to pieces along, the lines etched by 
acid, and consigned it to the 
flames. The Copper-of-the-Autumn- 
Feast and the Copper of- the 
Laughing-Waters followed. 

It was forty minutes later when 




THE SANTA CLAUS PLANET 



89 



he had finally thrown the last of 
the hampers of food into the oily 
flames, to the gasps of the stunned 
crowd. 

Then the chief -was striding to- 
wards him, magnificient in his 
richly decorated furs. Ruth trailed 
after him, her face calm but her 
eyes showing fright. 

“You have destroyed the mighty 
coppers and the soft skins of the 
arapai,” the chief said silkily, “but 
they were wealth of no great im- 
portance. You, perhaps, have gifts 
that would put these to shame, gifts 
that will show -your might and 
your own great wealth.” 

He was faintly sarcastic, know- 
ing full well that Reynolds had 
stripped his ship. 

“I have,” Reynolds said calmly, 
catching the startled look in Ruth’s 
eyes. He pointed to a pile of goods 
just outside the port of the rocket 
that he had spent most of the night 
assembling. “Succulent and tasty 
foods, breads and meats that will 
last your tribe for many days, and 
a machine that will take the bas- 
est of materials and turn them into 
the choicest of delicacies.” 

The piles included all the provi- 
sions he had had on board, includ- 
ing his synthetic food machine. 

As before, the crowd good natur- 
edly shouted their approval and 
left, knowing that the climax had 
•merely been postponed another day 



or so. 

After they had gone, Reynolds 
could feel the fingers of fear grip 
his heart once more. There was no 
way back now, except the slim 
chance that Ruth might be able 
to help him restock on the sly with 
native foods. 

The day was a cloudy one, an 
excellent day for working on the 
rocket. The clouds 'cut the enervat- 
ing heat of the sun and Reynolds 
felt filled with a new enthusiasm. 
Even the odor of burning grease, 
fired by the heat of his welding 
torch, smelled good to him. He was 
a day away from finishing his re- 
pairs; another twenty four hours 
and he would be on his way to 
Canopus with an explanation for 
his delay that was so bizarre it was 
almost bound to be believed. 

He had finished with one of the 
last strips on a firing tube and 
was just reaching for another clay- 
covered welding rod, when he spot- 
ted the procession coming down the 
valley. The chief and the two stern- 
faced representatives and Ruth. 
And, as always, the thrill seeking 
crowd. 

Only twenty-four more hours, he 
thought agonizedly, and that was 
to be denied to him: One -more 
turn of the planet’s axis and he 
would have been gone . . . 

“You are to go to my father’s 




90 



UNIVERSE 



house for the next feast,” Ruth 
said heavily. “They are planning 
on it to be the last one.” 

He dropped his welding torch 
and made ready to follow Ruth to 
the village. There was no chance 
of changing for dinner, he thought 
grimly, with only one pair of pants 
left to him. All his other clothing 
had gone the way of “gifts.” 

The chief’s house was an elabor- 
ate, thatched affair with a large 
circular opening in the roof. Be- 
neath this opening was the open 
fireplace, black with the ashes of 
many fires. Currently there was an- 
other fire in it, roasting the huge 
haunches of meat for the feast and 
broiling the tubers buried in the 
coals around its periphery. 

The feast was an elaborate one 
to which, apparently, the entire vil- 
lage had been invited. The en- 
closure was packed with hot, sweat- 
ing natives whose eyes were 
glued on every mouthful of food 
that Reynolds took and every move 
he made. 

The condemned ate a light meal. 
Reynolds thought, and he didn’t 
enjoy a single bit of it. 

The interminable meal and en- 
tertainment finally came to a halt 
and the chief raised his arms for 
silence. At his signal, a dozen of the 
young men in the hut disappeared 
and came back bearing the car- 
tons of supplies and the food ma- 



chine that had been Reynolds’ 
“gift” a few days before. 

“The stranger is mighty,” the 
chief said solemnly, “and has 
shown that he possesses great 
wealth. But, alas, his weath is as 
nothing to that of the Mantanai.” 
One of the men threw a carton on 
the flames and Reynolds watched 
it puff up in smoke. “It is as the 
dew in the morning, compared to 
the waters in the ocean.” Another 
carton. “The number of people in 
this village compared to the blades 
of grass in the valley.” 

It was insane, Reynolds thought; 
a cultural mania that apparently 
would go to any lengths. A fana- 
tical, perverited capitalism run 
wild. 

The last of the cartons had been 
consumed in the fire and the food 
machine reduced to twisted metal 
when the chief turned to Reynolds. 

“It is now our turn tb show the 
might of the Mantanai, the great 
springs of wealth of our people.” 

Again the twelve young men dis- 
appeared and came back hauling 
the usual variety of gifts, but this 
time in an incredible profusion. An 
exclamation went up from the 
crowd that quickly dwindled to 
awed silence as the chief enumerat- 
ed the gifts. 

“The furs of one hundred 
arapai, caught in the prime period 
of spring, switched and tanned with 




THE SANTA CLAUS PLANET 



91 



the gentlest of willow boughs . . . 
the Copper-oj-the-Many-Winters 
. . . . the Copper-of-the Endless- 
Snows .... twenty two hampers 
of the plumpest and most perfect 
of fowls .... the Copper-of-the- 
Wild-Crows . . . three hampers of 
the reddest of wood berries, noted 
for their succulence and flavor . . .” 

The mere enumerating took 
half an hour and by the time he 
was finished, the center of the hut 
was packed with the hampers and 
furs and the reddish wheels of cop- 
per. 

The chief finished and turned 
triumphantly to Reynolds. 

“What have you to offer now, 
stranger? It is your turn for the 
Giving of Gifts!” 

Ruth finished translating by his 
side and sat down on the floor be- 
side him. 

“I have nothing to offer,” Rey- 
nolds told her in a low voice. 

We are finished then,” she said 
softly. 

Now that he had , finally reach- 
ed the clirsax, Reynolds felt too 
tired to feel fear. “Say a prayer 
for me and Father Williams,” he 
said in a stricken voice. 

She shrugged faintly. “We will 
say one together.” 

The way she said it made him 
glance at her, startled. “What do 
you mean?” 

She laughed softly. “Because we 



shall be together. They know that 
I have been helping you. While you 
have been playing the game, I have 
been safe. But now that you have 
lost, whatever happens to you will 
happen to me.” 

The crowd was oninously still, 
waiting for the climatic moment 
when Reynolds and Ruth would be 
seized and forced to drink of the 
Last Cup. The chief was even ready 
to motion to his aides to seize 
them, when Reynolds got to his 
feet and strode to the center of 
the room. 

He stared bitterly at the sur- 
prised crowd for a moment, then 
spat on the nearest copper and 
hurled it into the fire. 

“The gifts of the Mantanai are 
as the gifts of small children,” he 
said loudly. “The wealth of old 
women.” 

He kicked through the assembled 
gifts like a small cyclone, pulling at 
the furs and edging the hampers to- 
wards the fire, until at last the 
huge fire had spread to twice its 
original circumference and the 
flames had begun to crisp the 
thatch around the hole in the roof 
and blister the natives closest to 
the fire. 

When he finally stopped, the 
crowd was watching him in ex- 
pectant stillness, waiting for his 
offer. 

“I offer in turn,” he said slow- 




UNIVERSE 



ly,” a gift of the house of many 
fires, the arrow of shining metal 
that voyages among the heavens; 
my rocket.” 

There was a roar of astonish- 
ment and heads bobbed in eager 
approval. 

He had won again, Reynolds 
thought weakly, but the comedy 
was in its last act. 

Ruth came to see him early the 
next morning and they found a 
secluded spot on the bank of the 
stream, not far from the now 
guarded rocket. 

“You were very brave,” she said. 

He resisted an urge to be modest. 

“I know.” 

“My father was very much sur- 
prised.” 

“I rather suspected that he 
would be,” Reynolds said indiffer- 
ently. 

She was quiet for a moment, 
starting intently into the waters 
of the stream. 

“Will you miss not going 
back?” 

“Of course,” he said automati- 
cally, then began to give it some 
thought. Would he be sorry about 
not going back? If he stayed away, 
he would be taken for dead and 
insurance would amply provide for 
his family. And being provided for 
was all that they had wanted of 
him anyway. 



Besides, the people here weren’t 
bad people, despite their twisted 
outlook on matters of property. 

“Well now, I don’t know,” he 
added thoughtfully. “Perhaps after 
a while I could learn to forget 

She laughed and then asked: 
“Will you like being a chief?” 

He hunched himself up on one 
elbow and stared at her question- 
ingly. She wasn’t smiling any more. 

“You will be a chief soon,” she 
said. “At least for several days.’ 
“How do you mean?” 

She gestured at the village and 
the surrounding land. “They will 
destroy the rocket this afternoon; 
then all this will be yours as their 
last gift.” 

He felt expansive. “That 
means I’ve won, then, doesn’t it?” 
She shook her head. “You will 
own the village and land, but only 
for a while.” 

It was a very clever idea he 
thought, suddenly no longer ap- 
preciating the beautiful day or 
Ruth’s company. They would give 
him title to the village and all the 
lands of the tribe, and there the 
game would end. Since he was un- 
able to return an even more, worthy 
gift, the remaining portion of the 
custom would be carried out, dur- 
ing the performance of w!hich he 
would automatically become an 
absentee landlord, so to speak, and 




THE SANTA CLAUS PLANET 



93 



the property would all revert back 
to the original owners. 

The game was at an end. He 
wouldn’t very well destroy their 
“gift” or give them something in 
return; he was a bankrupt. 

He was admiring the landscape 
and the beautiful stream and the 
fine tropical weather with a sort 
of sickly enjoyment, considering 
it was probably the last time he 
would be able to do so, when the 
idea struck him. Why not? 
What had he to lose? 

“How much time have we left, 
Ruth?” 

She looked up at the sun. “Not 
long, perhaps a few of your hours.” 

“That’s time enough.” He grab- 
bed her wrist and then ran down- 
stream, to a small cul-de-sac along 
the bank, not far from the ship. 

The drums of lubricating oil — 
an even half dozen — were still 
where he had cached them, to pre- 
vent any possible fires when he had 
been welding on the ship. He 
found a rock and pounded the 
spout of one until it broke and the 
oil was free to gush out, then turn- 
ed the drum on its side and started 
rolling it rapidly along the bank, 
the oil spilling out on the grass and 
spreading over the calm waters of 
the stream. 

By the time time the few hours 
were up, Reynolds had finished with 
the last of the drums of oil and 



was ready to receive the chief and 
the thrill-seekers from the village. 

“The wealth of the Mantanai is 
great.”. 

(There was a pounding from 
within the rocket as natives cheer- 
fully hammered the generators and 
the coils and the delicate thrust 
machinery with rocks and crude 
metal bars.) 

“The wealth of the Mantanai is 
as the sands on the beach.” 

(There was a shaking and rat- 
tling sound from the rocket as the 
delicate meters and instruments 
were pounded to fragments of 
glass and metal). 

“The wealth of -the Mantanai is 
as boundless as the stars in the 
heaven.” 

(There was a hissing noise as the 
huge bonfire was lit in the control 
room). 

Reynolds accepted the destruc- 
tion of the rocket calmly; he had 
accepted it’s ultimate fate for what 
seemed a long time now. But his 
turn was coming. 

After a long and elaborate 
ceremony, Reynolds was gifted 
with the village and the lands sur- 
rounding it and presumably the 
people in it. Then he stepped for- 
ward with a lighted torch in his 
hands. 

“The lands of the Mantanai are 
as the egg of the vulture: worthless. 




94 



UNIVERSE 



A poor land, with a poor people. 
See, I think little of it!” and he 
cast the torch at a wet spot on the 
ground. 

The wet spot flared into flame 
that became a rapidly twisting 
snake of fire, leading down to the 
stream. \ moment later, the waters 
were thick with flames and oily 
black smoke. 

It looked like Reynolds was in- 
deed bent upon the destruction of 
the land. The ohief was white. 
“The stranger really means this?” 

Reynolds nodded grimly and the 
first of the drums that he had 
cached behind the village went up 
in a roar and a gush of flames. The 
assembled natives paled. Another 
drum went up. 

“We shall be killed!” the chief 
cried, his eyes rolling white. 

Reynolds smiled. “The property 
of the Mantanai and the Mantanai 
themselves are as nothing.” 

Another drum. 

“But you, shall die!” 

Reynolds shrugged. “My last 
gift. I knew you wouldn’t want to 
ascend into the skies without tak- 
ing me along.” 

The chief suddenly knelt and 
kissed Reynolds’ calloused feet. 
“The wealth of the stranger is 
mighty; that of the Mantanai is 
small and insignificant.” His face 
was terror stricken. “The stranger 
has won the game!” 



The last of the drums went up. 

“Perhaps,” the chief pleaded, 
“the wealth of the stranger is so 
great that he can overlook our own 
small lands and village?” 

They were learning humility at 
a late date, Reynolds thought. 
But he nodded solemnly and ex- 
tended his hands toward the 
flaming oil barriers around the 
village. There were no more sudden 
gushes of flame and gradually the 
oil on the stream burned out. 

He had won, Reynolds thought 
shakily, won on a bluff with prac- 
tically no time to spare. Another 
ten minutes and the flames would 
have died by themselves, exposing 
his deception. 

But he was still stranded, and 
stranded now for the rest of his 
life. There were compensations, of 
course, ohief among which was the 
fact that he would be spared his 
unhappy homecoming on Canopus. 

.And this planet was comfortable, 
the weather was nice. And he had 
always been the comfort loving 
sort, anyways. 

And then there was Ruth. 

“About the girl Ruth,” he start- 
ed to the Chief. 

The chief’s face immediately 
grew stern. “She interfered with 
the game of the Giving of Gifts. 
She will have to take the Last 
Cup.” 

Reynolds was aghast. 




THE SANTA CLAUS PLANET 



“But look here, I own the village 
and all the lands surrounding it! 

I . . 

The chief shook his head. “It is 
traditions.” Then his face grew 
sly. “But, perhaps if the stranger 
was .willing to consider a gift, the 
girl could be spared.” 

There wasn’t any doubt as to 
what he was driving at. 

“What do you want?” 

Firmly. “The village and lands 
to revert to their owners.” 

Later, on the bank of the stream, 
Ruth leaned her head in the crook 
of his arm and gazed dreamily at 
the sky. 

“You know why you won, do you 
not?” 

Certainly. They were afraid 
they were going to lose all their 
property.” 

She shook her head. “Partly. But 
mostly because you were willing to 
lose your life, your last gift as you 
said. They could never have 
matched it.” 

He nodded vaguely, not too 
much interested, and told her his 
plans for the future and just where 
she fitted into them. He should 
have seen long ago, he thought, 
that her efforts to help him hinged 
on more t/han just the past kind- 
nesses of Father Williams. 

She didn’t reply to his question. 

He flushed, thinking that pos- 



95 

sibly his conclusions had been all 
wrong. 

“You forget,” she said softly. 
“The bridal price.” 

He lay hack on the bank, his 
head whirling. With the reversion 
of the village and lands back to 
the tribe to save Ruth’s life, he 
was broke. He had no property of 
his own. 

He had won his life — and hers — 
he thought, but he had finished as 
a bankrupt in the most brutally 
capitalistic society that nature had 
ever created, without even the bri- 
dal price for the women he loved: 

Reynolds finished the story, and 
sipped the last of the wassail in 
his cup. 

“Then when we .gave those na- 
tives our guns,” Harkins said, “it 
was doing essentially what you 
had done. Short circuiting the cere- 
mony of the Giving of Gifts by of- 
fering our lives, the ultimate gift, 
the one that 'couldn’t be topped.” 

“Essentially,” Reynolds agreed, 
“though that’s a simplification,” 

“I don’t understand,” Jarvis 
cut in, puzzled. “Harkins here says 
that the town has been con’sider- 
ably modernized. How was that ac- 
complished?” 

Reynolds swished the last few 
drops of liquor in his ' glass and 
watched the small whirlpool 
thoughtfully. 




96 



UNIVERSE 



“I’m a comfort loving man my- 
self, and as I became more wealthy 
and consequently gained more 
power in the village council, I saw 
to it that my own ideas for civic im- 
provement were carried out.” He 
started looking around for the 
wassail bowl. “Really, quite 
simple.” 

There was a short silence, leav- 
ing an opening for the strains of 
“Silent night” emanating from 
a small group of overly-merry car- 
olers in another corner. 

Harkins looked Reynolds slowly 
up and down and thought to him- 
self that the man was lying like a 
rug. There were gaps in his story 
big enough to run the Churchill 
through. 

“I was wondering, Mr. Rey- 
nolds,” he said. “You ihad to give 
back the village and lands to save 
the girl’s life.” (The way Harkins 
phrased it, he obviously didn’t 
approve of Reynolds taking up with 
the native girl, but that was neither 
here nor there). “And that left you 
as poor as the proverbial church- 
mouse. Just how did you gain your 
wealth and influence?” 

“I worked a full year,” Reynolds 
said, “before I earned Ruth’s bri- 
dal price. Even at that, her bridal 
price wasn’t great, less than that 
of some of the other belles of the 
village. Their tastes in feminine 
beauty weren’t the same as ours, 



you understand.” 

“I don’t see what bearing that 
has on it,” Harkins said stiffly. 

Reynolds felt around in the folds 
of his cloak, then passed over a 
simple drawing to Harkins. It was 
a crude line drawing of a plump, 
pleasant faced woman surrounded 
by her family. 

“I think I told you before, that 
the natives also used their wealth 
in paying for their grand-sons. 
That is, a father-in-law would pay 
a hundred percent interest on the 
bridal price his daughter’s husband 
had given him on the birth of his 
first grandson. Two hundred per- 
cent for the second child and four 
hundred percent for the third, 
doubling each time. Now most of 
the Mantanai don’t care much for 
many children, but Ruth and I had 
always thought that we would like 
a large family. And Ruth’s father 
you remember, was the wealthiest 
man in the village.” 

Harkins was staring open-mouth- 
ed at the drawing, counting the 
number of children and frantically 
doubling as he went along. 

“Of course, a good deal of luck 
was involved,” Reynolds said ex- 
pansively “Fifteen children — all 
boysl 

THE END 

★ ★ ★ 








AMERICANS 
LIKE US! 



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I'm not exactly a guy for passing out com* 
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I think your stories are all well above average quality. They are not over- 
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unlike so many American magazines. 

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These are unsolicited testimonials from American 
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and we sell just as many overseas 



Every issue contains a long novel and several short stories 
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97 



THE CLUB HOUSE 



TT was back in the days of an- 
^ dent Egypt when the Royal 
Families were so exclusively Royal 
that brother and sister married, 
because everyone else was of in- 
ferior blood. This went on gener- 
ation after generation until the 
RdVal Family become extremely 
inbred. Love had nothing to do 
with it. But along about twenty- 
one hundred B. C. there was a 
young pharoah named Amontahac- 
hachapt, if I got the spelling right, 
and, according to the archeologist 
at the Smithsonian Institute who 
translated the story from the orig- 
inal slabs inside his pyramid, he ac- 
tually was deeply in love with his 
sister. According to the pictures 
of her on her mummy case she was 
like most of the women of those 
days, a flat chest and all angles, 
with her head always turned pro- 
file-wise to show off her Egyp- 
tian nose and chin, and arms held 
up at odd angles with wrists look- 
ing like they were broken — you’ve 
seen those drawings yourself. But 
to Amontahachachapt the First, 
since he was in love With her, she 




undoubtedly looked all curves. 
She was very short. Only about 
four feet eleven inches tall. Amon- 
tahachachapt has only one claim 
to fame, so far as the historians 
can determine. He had a pet 
name for his sister that is still fa- 
mous down to this very day. That 
pet name — ^and probably only Fer- 
ry Ackerman will have guessed it 
ahead of lime — was “short ‘n’ in- 
bred.” 

On Thursday October 28th at 
7:30 P. M. the Los Angeles Sci- 
ence-Fantasy Society will celebrate 
twenty years of continuous exist- 
ence. The 20th Anniversary meet- 
ing will be held in their regular 
meeting place, Freehafer Hall, 
ground floor in the Prince Rupert 
Apts., 1305 Ingraham, Los Angeles, 
where they meet every Thursday 
evening. Ackerman, who is the 
second worst punster in. the world, 
will be there, suffering from a feel- 
ing of the futility of existence be- 
cause I discovered the most per- 
fect pun in the English language 
before he did. So if you want to 
see in the flesh a man who is con- 



98 



THE CLUB HOUSE 



99 



templating the futility of further 
existence, without it costing you 
one penny, this is your chance. 

In addition, LSFS, or “Lass- 
fass,” as the club members call it, 
plans to have a gala gathering of 
3-in-i rriotif: Hallowe’en, Re-un- 
ion, and Welcome. Everyone is 
cordially invited. 

Chad Oliver, Ray Bradbury, A 
E. van Vogt, Henry Kuttner, Rich- 
ard Matheson, E. Everett Evans 
Catherine Moore, E. Mayne Hull, 
and R. S. Richardson will be there 
and will no doubt autograph that 
book of their’s you have if you 
take it along with you. There’ll 
be a dozen or so other writers 
there, whose stories you’ve seen 
in magazines, and of course lots 
of science fiction fans. 

In the same month of October, 
on the 6th, the University of Chi- 
cago Science Fiction Club will 
hold its first autumn meeting — 
and don’t let the name fool you, 
Because so far as I know none of 
the members go to the U of C. 
They merely hold their meetings 
there, in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 
E 59th St., Chicago, Illinois, ev- 
ery other Wednesday evening at 
7:30 P M . 

They are planning a gala quiz 
show. (That “gala” business comes 
from quoting directly from the ad- 
vance notices sent me by both 
clubs.) They’re a nice group of 
fans, and since I’m living in Chi- 



cago at present I often attend the 
meetings, and will probably attend 
this one. 

It would be nice if more clubs 
would send me details of a specific 
meeting whose date is far enough 
ahead so that it wouldn’t be past 
history before Universe reaches the 
stands. I’m writing this August 
20th, so you can figure from that 
the minimum time lag you will 
have to allow for. 

By the time this appears, the 
big convention at Frisco will be 
past history. It will be the first 
World Convention I have missed 
in several years. Where will the 
19SS convention be held? My pre- 
diction is Cleveland; but what- 
ever city gets it, the Club House is 
open to them at any time for an- 
nouncements, reports and requests. 
At Earl Kemp’s, where I was in- 
vited for dinner a few evenings 
ago, I learned he had finally re- 
ceived his membership card for 
the convention, but still no con- 
vention report. At this late date 
the membership card Frisco un- 
doubtedly sent me a week or so ago 
will probably have been lost in the 
mails, as I’ve changed address two 
or three times during the ten 
months since I paid my dollar. 
Earl’s membership card was num- 
bered five hundred and something, 
which indicates that there should 
be quite a turnout for the Friscon. 
The membership card was signed 




100 



UNIVERSE 



by Les or Es Cole, so I know that 
tha Friscon is in good hands, 
even though there has been no sign 
of life visible to me from the di- 
rection of San Francisco, — nor to 
anyone else in the Chicago area 
that I’ve talked with — until now, 
tw;o weeks before convention time. 
This will all be past history by the 
time you read this, so — on to oth- 
er things . . 

With Universe bi-monthly in- 
stead of appearing every month, 
I have two or three issues of some 
of the fanzines on hand, sent in 
during the past sixty days. I also 
note that there are more fanzines 
from England and Canada than 
there used to be. I’m going to 
have to more or less group the 
fanzines to get them all in, but 
in they will get, even if Bea has 
to cut out all the editorial to 
crimp the CLUB HOUSE into the 
space allowed for it. So . . . 

Indiana seems to lead with four 
fanzines, alt different in title. They 
are FEMZINE, MERLIN, EIS- 
FA, and ISFA. We’ll take them in 
that order. 

FEMZINE: loc to nom-sub- 
scribers; “A fanzine for and by 
THE FANETTES”, editor Juan- 
ita R Wellons, 529 Milton Ave., 
Anderson, Indiana. Co-editor is 
Lee Anne Tremper, and Honey 
Wood is President of the Fanettes, 
with Noreen Falasca sec-treasurer. 
The fem-fan club is getting reor- 



ganized after a year of being 
snowed under with inactive leader- 
ship. Their fanzine shows the re- 
sult of the revival. It’s good. An un- 
usually good fantasy, “Little Black 
Cloud,” by Lee Anne Tremper 
held me spellbound to the very end. 
Fashion of the Future, is a nice 
article with no author listed. It 
his drawings of dresses from 2025, 
2052, 2058, and 2065. Why don’t 
some of you fanettes make and 
wear clothes like that? MmmMM! 1 
There’s also a list of the members 
of the club. 

MERLIN: no charge, but send 
her a dime to take care of the post- 
age and envelope; first issue; Lee 
Anne Tremper, 1022 N- Tuxedo 
St., Indianapolis i, Indiana. Very 
good artwork, and several pages 
of cartoons, some of which could 
have found sale with professional 
magazines. In her editorial Lee 
says she is now out of college and 
up to her neck in fan activities 
again. After reading some of the 
stories in this issue I think it’s 
worth a quarter, but if Lee wants 
to work for nothing that’s her bus- 
iness. Poetry, too . . . 

The bat-winged shadows, carved 
by moonlight, fly 

With flapping pinions through 
the tortured trees 

Stirring the leaves to somber 
litanies 

That echo through the dark like 
one vast sigh . . . 




THE CLUB HOUSE 



lOI 



That’s from “The Night of 
Eden” by Edd Roberts, on page 
II. Forty pages, and they’re real- 
ly something! 

EISFA: 5c; Eastern Indiana 
Science Fiction Association; Juan- 
ita R. VVellons, 529 Milton Ave., 
Anderson, Indiana; August issue. 

Vol. II, No. 8. “Assignment in 
Space” by Robert Coulson is a 
space opera, but far better than the 
average one found in profession- 
al magazines. It was given loving 
handling by Eisfa’s staff artists 
with six illustrations. It was 
worth it. Carlton Crosby’s ac- 
count of an EISFA meeting is hil- 
arious and — well, perhaps as fac- 
tual as some of the newspaper 
items I’ve read. There’s twenty 
pages of thorough enjoyment that 
should make you an EISFA fan 
even if you don’t live within a 
thousand miles of Indiana. 

ISFA: 15c; Edward McNulty, 
5645 N. Winthrop St., Indianapo- 
lis, Indiana. Volume I, No. 2, June 
’S4 issue. A little late for sending 
in to be reviewed, Edward; but by 
the time this hits the stands sum- 
mer vacation will be over and 
you’ll be back in business again. 
Any of you living in or near In- 
dianapolis can find out about 
I.S.A.F. meetings by writing or 
phoning Robert Adair, 41 59 
Broadway Ave., Hu 1659. 

SPIRAL: loc; Denis Moreen, 
214 Ninth St., Wilmette, 111 .; July 



1954 issue No. 8. The kind of a 
fanzine I delight in reading from 
cover to cover. A long letter column. 
Ten pages of letters, with replies 
by Denis, from old familiar names 
like Lynn Hickman, Gregg Gal- 
kins, and Ed Cox, and new names 
like Burt Beerman, Don Wegars, 
Paul Mittelbuscher, Dick Geis, 
etc . . . Several discussions being 
tossed around. 

Claude R. Hall has an article, 
“The Doppel-Rad Effect”, which 
sums up very accurately what is 
wrong with science fiction today. 
Not only has science outstripped 
its fiction, but fiction has run out 
of new ideas. What new monsters 
can space opera dream up? What 
new ideas in human mutations? 
Time travel plots are to stf what 
murder in a locked room is to de- 
tective fiction. Even future civi- 
lizations that have anything new 
to them are hard to find now. Edi- 
tors have been forced by a dearth 
of new ideas to rely more and 
more on the story that carries it- 
self without an idea worthy of a 
story. It is, perhaps, a necessary 
trend; but it carries science fic- 
tion closer and closer to the con- 
ventional story, and when it gets 
too close it will lose the basic ap- 
peal of science fiction, which is — 
not for sex, not for purely human 
problems, but for new ideas, new 
implications of old ideas, new ex- 
ploration of apparently exhausted 




102 



UNIVERSE 



veins of thought. 

Some pro editors are stuck with 
the idea that the feature novel 
must be one where the world is 
doomed — but the hero saves it. 
World Crisis, Cosmic Crisis, must 
take the feature spot. But it isn’t 
entirely their fault. Or, in some 
ways, maybe it is. I, for one, have 
been told too much what to write 
and what not to write for editors, 
Ray Palmer excepted. I think he’s 
the only editor who hasn’t told me 
what to write. “As little of the 
■philosophizing as possible, Rog.” 
“Your sex is too naive, too juvenile, 
Rog. Get some SEX into your sto- 
ry, boy!” As a consequence, the 
story that makes the reader stop 
reading for a moment to sit back 
and digest an idea or a new im- 
plication which opens new mental 
horizons for the readers, is now 
somewhat tabu with editors. A 
writer who gets such a theme hes- 
itates about writing it, knowing it 
won’t find a ready market. I 
think what it boils down to is 
that, (a) most editors are con- 
vinced that the majority of editors 
must be right in their current pol- 
icy so it’s less risky to ride the 
same train with them, and (b), 
most editors are convinced that 
the readers are mainly juveniles, 
and when the editor has to pause 
to figure something out, the juven- 
ile reader will be completely bog- 
ged down — so it’s a bad story to 



publish. 

See what I mean about Spiral? 
It has what professional magazines 
don’t have too much of, and have- 
n’t for some time. Food for thought 
and for speculation, and discus- 
sion. Where was I? Oh, yes — re- 
viewing the fanzines . . . 

DEVIANT: 20c; July 1954, is- 
sue No. 3; Carol McKinney, Sta. 
I, Box 514, Provo Utah. Perfect 
mimeography on cheerful yellow 
paper that sets off the black ink 
nicely. Good artwork on almost 
every page. J.J.R. (a pseudonym) 
tries out his public with a .serious 
article whose aim is to establish 
some sort of a “philosophy” for 
fandom. He promises more ar- 
ticles for future issues of Deviant. 

“Ring Down the Curtain” by 
Harold Bunan has a nice opening. 
“There’s only one thing wrong 
with these extra-terrestrial expe- 
peditions,” Roy Morris thought 
uncomfortably. “A guy gets into 
so damn much trouble.” He 
glanced over to his right where 
Phyllis Hope was tied to a post 
driven into the sand . .. The sto- 
ry doesn’t let you down, either. 
There’s a letter column too, and 
of course Terry Carr’s “Face Crit- 
turs”, which are always very good. 
You have to see them . . . 

DIMENSIONS: 20c; July ’54; 
Harlan Ellison, 41 E. i?th Ave.. 
Cblumbus i, Ohio. Sixty- four 
pages — ^which sets a record for 




THE CLUB HOUSE 



103 



this pile of fanzines. A two col- 
or mimeographed cover, “Factor 
Forgotten”, by Jack Harness, 
which was the winner of Di- 
mensions’ annual cover contest. 
There’s an inside front cover, and 
a back cover illo too. 

Tlie contents? There’s so much 
I couldn’t begin to cover it ade- 
quately. A couple of stories fill 
twenty of the pages. The other 
forty-four pages have articles and 
features of every description, by 
too many names to mention. I’ll 
bet Harlan can’t put out the equal 
of this issue again in a long time! 

NITE CRY: loc; May and 

July issues; Don Chappell, 5921 
E. 4th PL, Tulsa, Okla. Official 
publication of the Oklahoma Sci- 
ence Fiction Confederation. Tulsa 
isn’t far from Kingfisher where an 
aunt of mine lives. I spent my 
sophomore vear at Kingfisher 
High. So it brings back old times 
to read, in the July issue, “Time 
for the editorial, and with the 
temperature about no deg. F. I 
am not much in the mood for 
banging this ole typer.” But that 
one outburst evidently put him in- 
to the mood, because his editorial 
gave all the current Okla fan 
news with brief and interesting 
sidelights. 

There is something really new in 
this zine, and I wonder someone 
hasn’t thought of it before. “Soon- 
er Flashback” by Dan McPhail, 



gives the news of fan and pro do- 
ings 18 years ago. A regular col- 
umn of that type in a fanzine 
would be a wonderful thing. 
“Claude Rambles” by Claude R. 
Hall tells something about where 
he’s stationed in Germany. He’s 
in the army now, and misses fan 
doings. Jann Hickey, in “I’m cur- 
ious” discusses the mystery of 
Venus. He tosses out several 
ideas about Venus that would form 
the basis of good stories, without 
seeming to realize it. 

The July issue continues the 
Sooner Flashback under the title, 
“Smoke Signals” and is even more 
interesting than before. These 
items came from Science Fiction 
News, a fanzine published in Ok- 
lahoma during those years. I 
hope this feature of Nite Cry con- 
tinues. 

FOG: sc; Don Wegers, 2444 
Valley St., Berkeley 2, California. 
A dittoed job, and I wonder why 
more fan editors don’t use the ditto 
method. Probably because the or- 
iginal cost of the machine is too 
much. But with ditto you can get 
more than one color with a single 
run, for one thing, A nice ram- 
bling fanzine with fan fiction and 
humor, most interesting article 
being “Nothing But The Truth” 
by Denis Moreen, which tells of the 
never ending efforts of a certain 
prozine to get him to renew his 
subscription when he doesn’t want 




104 



UNIVERSE 



to because the mailman wrecks the 
magazine putting it into the mail- 
box. 

EC FAN JOURNAL: loc; issue 
5; Mike May, 9428 Hobart St., 
Dallas, Texas. “Craig of the 
Vault” by Larry Stark takes up 
9 of the fifteen pages, and discuss- 
es Johnny Craig, 28 years old, sen- 
ior artist on EC’s staff. Well . . . 
If you’re a fan of VAULT and 
MADy and kindred comic books, 
you will probably find this zine 
a valuable addition to your “libra- 
ry”. That’s why I reviewed it, 
even though it isn’t a science-fic- 
tion fanzine. I’ll continue to re- 
view it when it’s sent in, even 
though I personally wouldn’t be 
caught dead with an issue of eith- 
er comic book in my possession. 

ECLIPSE: loc; Raymond 

Thompson, 410 S. 4th St., Nor- 
folk, Nebr, Issue No. 9. In “The 
Path of Totality.” Ray describes 
himself and his combination sleep- 
ing room and workship in a care- 
ful manner that gave me the 
pleasant impression that I would 
enjoy dropping in on him if I ever 
passed through Norfolk, Nebras- 
ka. There’s some limericks about 
Little Willie on page twelve that 
are pretty good. For instance: 

Little Willie hung his sister. 

She was dead before we missed 
her. 

Willie’s always up to tricks — 

Ain’t he cute? He’s only six! 



Besides Ray, there’s Val Walk- 
er, Art Kunwiss, Dobby Stewart, 
and Paul Mittelbuscher in the 
pages of this zine — and a page of 
Terry Carr’s “Face Critturs.” This 
is a fanzine you’ll get quiet en- 
joyment out of, just like you 
were at home with the guys. 

KAYMAR TRADER: loc; is- 
sue No. 85; K. Martin Carlson, 
1028 Third Ave., Moorehead, 
Minn. This is a straight adzine, 
for' the person interested in find- 
ing stf and fantasy books and back 
issue magazines for trade or for 
sale. Twenty-two pages of ads. I 
know of no other outlet that is 
so complete. I would venture to 
say that if it’s for sale it's avail- 
able through Kaymar. And you 
readers who have fantasy books 
and magazines you would like to 
sell, an ad in Kaymar is only a 
dollar for a full page. 

ZERO: first issue, August ’54; 
loc; James Chamlee, 208 N. 9th 
St., Gatesville, Texas. Mimeo- 
graphed on green paper with over- 
size red paper cover and back with 
a fantasy front cover illo by Jim 
Stein. In his editorial James ex- 
presses thanks to Terry Carr for 
material from his FANZINE MA- 
TERIAL POOL for this first i.s- 
sue. Sometime, maybe, Terry 
Carr would like to write about the 
fanzine material pool for the read- 
ers of the CLUB HOUSE. Would 
you, Terry? Somewhat along that 




THE CLUB HOUSE 



line in ZERO is an article by Ter- 
ry Carr, “A Suggestion For Fan- 
zine Writers” which gives a lot of 
pointers for fan writers. It alone 
makes it worth sending for this 
issue of ZERO. Several very good 
short stories. And an article by 
Ray Robel, is “Is Shaver Using 
the Old Testament as a Reference 
Book?” 

ZIP: No. s; 5c; Ted E. White 
1014 N. Tuckahoe St., Falls 
Church, Va. Mimeo, with yellow 
contents page and green cover illo, 
26 pages. The departments are 
fiction, satire, and columns — a nice 
division. Under satire is “An Open 
Letter to a Congressman” by Hoy 
Ping Pong. Claude R. Hall comes 
up with a real idea in the story, 
“The Delivery”. It’s about the 
delivery boy who goes to the lone- 
some house off the road, deliver- 
ing salt, pepper, bread, and but- 
ter. What else does he need to 
deliver, since he’s to be the roast 
Long Island duckling? 

This No. 5 issue is 8V2 by ii. 
Issue No. 4, also on hand for re- 
view, is only 5V2 by 4%, quarter 
size. Frankly, I don’t see why Ted 
changed size The smaller zine is 
the best pocketzine I’ve seen. It 
has a story, “Desert”, by Mike 
Reynolds; Ted claims there is a 
glaring error in this story, and 
offers a prize to the first one to put 
his finger on the error. In issue 
five in the letter column no one 



lOS 

has found it yet. It intrigued me, 
so I read the story through sever- 
al times. I couldn’t find the glar- 
ing error either. Of course, there’s 
a scientific error, in that the at- 
mosphere of Mars is too thin for 
man to breath, but it would be 
unfair for Ted to let that be the 
error, because it must be accept- 
ed that man can breathe on Mars 
or there isn’t a story. 

INTERPLANETARY: 5c; first 
issue, quarter-size; Randy Brown, 
6619 Anita St., Dallas 14, Texas. 
This zine is an example of what I 
was talking about in a previous 
issue when I said that refusing to 
review, or panning an inexpert job 
of publishing is bad business. 
Randy shows that he’s on the ball. 
Put a few subscribers on his list, 
have a few letters from friendly 
fans in his mailbox, and make him 
feel he’s worthy — whatever that 
means — of being a fan publisher, 
and you’ll see him break his neck 
right up there with the best. 

In the fan fiction department is 
“Too Late”, by John Fugler that 
has a nice twist at the end. And 
there’s an article, “The History of 
IF”, by Randy Brown. Also some 
•cartoons, not expertly done, but 
okay. So okay, you readers, make 
him feel welcome. 

Last in the pile of U. S, fan- 
zines is “Answerzine” from the 
desk of PROJECT FAN CLUB. 
Orville W. Mosher, 1728 Mayfair, 




io6 



UNIVERSE 



Emporia, Kansas, which probably 
won’t be available, but is a very 
practical idea. In it he answers 
the letters that have piled up, all 
in one fell swoop, and sends the 
bound copy of letter e.xcerpts and 
his replies to all those he owes 
letters to. The way it turns out, 
it makes a better fan news zine 
than one designed for that pur- 
pose. 

There are two fanzines from 
Canada. First is 

CANADI./^N FANDOM NO. 
21 : 2 0c; Gerald Steward, i66 
McRoberts Ave., Toronto lo, On- 
tario, with Bill Grant and Ken Hall, 
also of Ontario. The eleventh 
year of publication, for this zine, 
although I believe there were some 
years it didn’t see print. Beak 
Taylor had it from 1943-47, and 
Ned McKeown from 1947-31. It 
has stayed \'ery much the same 
over the years in excellent work- 
manship and high quality con- 
tents. 

“Fandom’s Current Controver- 
sy” by Norman G. Browne has to 
do with Mickey Spillane, Amazing 
Stories, and Howard Browne, its 
editor. I wasn’t aware there was 
a controversy going on, but the 
article is good reading, anyway. 
Stanley Couch tells “How To Iden- 
tify” in a humorous article on fly- 
ing objects such as saucers, dough- 



nuts, jet planes, cobwebs, etc. 
Howard Lyons talks about the 
Toronto fan club. The Derelicts. 
“No More Time” by Bill Conner is 
the best discussion of the nature 
of time and time travel I’ve seen. 
And the story, “Outside” by Eliz- 
abeth Pope — it should happen to 
you! Ever wish you’d never been 
born? Careful now, it might come 
true . . . 

A BAS: no price listed that I 
can see; Boyd Raeburn, 14 Lynd 
Ave., Toronto 3, Ontario. Issues 
2 and 3. So it’s from the same 
fan group as Canadian Fandom, 
but independent. The 1954 Mid- 
westcon is hashed over by Gerald 
Steward. That was in the middle 
of May. The general tone of this 
fanzine is humor, dry and appre- 
ciated. For example, this para- 
graph; “A fan from Busbee, Scot- 
land claiming he was Gordon Nim- 
mons breezed through town re- 
cently. He is hitch-hiking his way 
around the continent. I always 
wondered what happened to 
Claude Degler ...” 

Or this one, from the letter col- 
umn: from the letter of Riley Bed- 
ford, Bell, Calif.; “I can’t stand 
jazz unless it comes straight out 
of New Orleans. As Kid Ory once 
said when a waiter dropped a tray 
full of dishes and silver onto the 
floor with a tremendous crash, 
‘Listen, son, we don’t allow none 
of that modern stuff played 




THE CLUB HOUSE 



107 



here.’ ” 

And now, from the British Isles, 

BEM: No. 2 ; one good condition 
prozine such as this issue of Uni- 
verse will bring you two issues of 
Bern; Mai Ashworth, 40 Makin St., 
Tong St., Bradford 4, Yorks, Eng- 
land. June 1954. Fifty-one pages, 
mimeographed. Seventeen items on 
the contents page, so it’s quite evi- 
dent this issue is one of those mon- 
umental accomplishments where 
you’ll find so much, and so 
much variety, that you’ll have 
hours and hours of enjo}”^- 
ment. I’ll give honorary First 
Place in the issue to “Journey In- 
to Space,” a «cience fiction novel 
of about two hundred words, writ- 
ten by Frances Cook, eight year 
old daughter of Arthur Cook. It’s 
a nice solid story about a man 
from Earth captured by a king 
on another planet. He escapes 
with the help of a man from the 
lost planet, Junas, in the king’s 
solid' gold spaceship. They reach 
Earth and sell the solid gold ship 
and are rich men, I wish I’d 
thought of that plot for a story 
myself! “Convention Dragnet” 
by Archie Mercer is a take-off on 
those take-offs on Dragnet. Con- 
sidering the age of Archie I think 
I will have to give him only sec- 
ond place. A very entertaining 
issue, Mai. 



HYPHEN: July 1954; with all 
British fanzines you send one U.S. 
prozine in good condition and re- 
ceive one or more issues of the 
fanzine: A. V. Clarke, 16 Wend- 
over Way, Welling, Kent, England. 
Utterly hilarious is Mike Wilson’s 
“That-a-way”, a pure transplant of 
the most corny westerns into space 
opera. There’s quite a write-up of 
the Supermancon, as there was also 
in Bern. Vince Clarke does the 
write-up, starting off with, “It was 
a beautiful Whitsun evening when 
I went for the train, but that only 
made it worse. I felt lousy.” Walt 
Willis’ write-up, titled “The Mag- 
nificent Flop” starts off with, 
“The sun was shining on Man- 
chester when Irish fandom ar- 
rived.” 

(Let’s see how they did in BEM 
. . . “Saturday morning dawned 
warm and misty The target was 
the 7:30 bus . . . ”) Then, (Mai 
starts his report) “This is Whit 
IMonday, June 7th. It is a grim, 
gray, grimy day in Bradford and 
the rain is streaming past the win- 
dows ...” 

But they all went to Manches- 
ter and had a wonderful time, 
which is what counts. 

TRIODE: 44 Barbridge Rd., 
Arlo, Cheltenham, England, Eric 
Bentcliffe, Eric Jones, and Terry 
Jeeves, produced “Con-Science” 
‘before the Supermancon as a sort 
of manual for the neofan who had 




io8 



UNIVERSE 



never before attended a conven- 
tion. It was subtitled “The Corn- 
pleat Actifan.” Besides a list of 
equipment the fan “should” have, 
it covered the subject of various 
types of cons, such as “How to 
Run a Roofcon,” by T. Jeeves. 

At the bottom of the pile this 
time is a four page one-shot put 
out for FAPA mailing No. 69 by 
Walter A Willis, 170 Upper New- 
tonwnards Rd., Belfast, N. Ire- 
land, emulating Charles Burbee. 
Co-publisher of this one-shot was 
Chuck R. Harris, Lake Ave., 
Rainham, Esser, England. 

That winds up the reviews this 
time. The only thing I didn’t re- 
view was a fanzine which I was 
going to give top billing — until I 
discovered the issues were for 
June, July, and August of 1953. 
You out-of-business fan eds who 
want to unload the copies you 
have left should try to do so 
through ads in fanzines. When 
I introduce the readers to 
fardom, I want it to be a 
LIVE fandom, not last year’s 
sour apples. Send your fanzines 
and club reports either to the edi- 
torial offices or directly to me at 
Apt. 308, 6613 Normal, Chicago 
21, 111 . Next issue, although it will 
be “old hat” by then. I’ll be able 
to report on the convention at San 
Francisco, and let you know where 
the convention will be held next 
year. 



Ceammg 

for 

jCrnug 

for its Fall 1954 term 

presents a full 10-week course 
on the writing and enjoyment of 

SCIENCE-FICTION 

moderated by noted anthologist 
T. E. DIKTY 

Editor: Best Science-Fiction Stories 

★ 

You will hear 

FRITZ LEIBER 

on the extrapolated futore 

FRANK Me ROBINSON 

on plotting the science-fiction story 

MELVIN KORSHAK 

on science-fiction book publishing 

JULIAN MAY DIKTY 

on adapting science-fiction to TV, 
films ond music 

WILLIAM L. HAMLING 

on science-fiction 
magazine editing 

ALFRED AMES 

on science-fiction 
and literature 

MARK REINSBERG 

on recognizing 
good science-fiction 

WILSON TUCKER 

on the science-fiction novel 

★ 

Classes meet every Thursday eve- 
ning. commencing October 7, in 
modern classrooms in the heart of 
Chicago’s Loop. This special low- 
tuition course, described more 
fully in our Free catalogue, is open 
to both men and women. 

For Series ticket phone FRanklln 
2-7466. or write to; 

LEARNING FOR LIVING 

Central YMCA 

19 S. La Salle St. Chicago 3, III. 





Here's a little Christmas — beg, pardon — 
Clausmas story to brighten the Yuletide. 



THE CLAWS 
IN CLAUSMAS 



By Richard Hodgens & John Kirwan 



'T'HE Boss, who is in himself 
the official body of censure, 
met me at the top of the eleva- 
tor to Rudolph Park. We strolled 
pleasantly across the domed roof 
of the city of North Pole, capitol 
of the Claus worshipping world, 
toward the looming, rectangular 
tower of Claustemple F.A.O. 
Schwartz II, the only building 
above the city’s roof level. 

“Do you know that- there was a 
scholar around today who said you 
couldn’t ban The Book oj Isaiah?” 
I asked. The Boss snorted in con- 
tempt. 

“He said he didn’t value the 
book for its mystical content, but 
tearfully asked if I realized its 
value as literature.” At that, the 
Boss laughed. 

And that, I thought, is the eter- 



nal plea of the scholars. Don’t 
ban such and such a book, they 
will say, because it is great litera- 
ture. It may be obscene, but Art 
is beyond Mortality. It may be 
subversive, they will say, but don’t 
ban it if it is a Classic. 

“He claimed it wasn’t danger- 
ous,” I continued aloud, “des- 
pite its almost Christion sentment. 
I told him that I am only a secre- 
tary, and have nohing to do with 
policy.” 

“Of course,” said the Boss tol- 
erantly, “we owe the Christians 
something, because, after all, they 
started Clausmas — ” 

They didn’t, though, I thought. 
They picked an arbitrary date 
and used it as an excuse to con- 
tinue pleasant Roman and Teu- 
tonic holiday customs, as well as 



log 




no 



UNIVERSE 



to establish a holiday of their own. 
Clausmas has always been a com- 
bination, but now, in the year 502 
Since Claus (or, more accurately, 
since Saint Montgomery Ward es- 
tablished the first True Claus- 
temple), it is a complete combin- 
ation. The God of Giving and Get- 
ting is an inter-racial, inter-nation- 
al god. 

“However,” the Boss was say- 
ing, “we cannot let sentimental 
feelings for the e.xtinct faiths sub- 
vert our loyalty to Santa,” he 
puffed with the exertion of the 
walk. 

“To think of the Christians as 
extinct is too convenient,” I ob- 
jected quietly. “They still lurk 
about, burning Clausmas trees, 
usurping the Faith, and conspiring 
to take the Claus out of Clausmas, 
in unholy alliance with the Rabbit- 
ites.” 

“Oh,” he said scornfully, “we 
can ignore Rabbitiees, I think.” 

“But the Australian Empire is 
still—” 

“Australian Empire,” he in- 
toned derisively. “What empire?” 

“There’s their colony in Eng- 
land.” 

“But didn’t we beat Canada 
nine years ago? And why worry 
about a mob of aborigines from 
Britain? Moreover, in Australia 
itself, the proportion of those who 
worship the easter bunny is de- 
creasing, so Rabbitism poses no 



problem to us of the True Faith 
. . . Clausdamn economic plot, 

that Australian religion, of mon- 
ey-grubbing, blasphemous, Chris- 
tian — ” 

“Anyway,” I interrupted, not 
wishing to be treated to another 
lecture about how the Australians 
plotted to export their rabbits as 
objects of worship, “the scholar 
said that Christianity had nothing 
to do with THE BOOK OF 
ISAIAH.” 

“All pagans are the same to 
me,” said the Boss. “Hebrews, 
Christians, or Rabbitites — they’re 
all done for.” 

Naturally the Christians were 
done for, I thought. They were 
doomed as soon as they started to 
say, “Yes, Virginia, there is a 
Santa Claus. It’s the spirit of 
giving. Now I wonder if I should 
spend five dollars or ten on your 
Aunt Martha this year.” 

“Where was this scholar from?” 
asked the Boss. 

“Cupid City,” I replied. Cupid 
City. Cupidity. 

F.A.O. Schwartz II was tall and 
majestic before us. “Beautiful, 
beautiful,” sighed the Boss. “More 
beautiful than Schwartz I in Blitz- 
encity.” 

Blitzencity, I thought; Blitz- 
’em - City. Commercialization. 
Smother-’em-with - neon - City. A 
beautiful place. More miles of 
neon tube than any other city 




THE CLAWS IN CLAUSMAS 



III 



in the world. 

We passed a group of carolers 
in red and green play suits. They 
were singing an ancient hymn, “I 
Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” 
A thrill of reverence ran through 
me. It was like the spiritual awe 
one feels when a preacher reads 
from the scripture about how no- 
body, but nobody ever undersold 
old Saint Gimbell. 

We crossed the Hearth togeth- 
er (no one is quite sure of the 
reason for the tradition which 
makes the large square before ev- 
ery Claustemple the “Hearth”). 
Like all Claustemples, F.A.O. 
Schwartz II has a sooty black 
floor, its tower is constructed of 
huge blocks of red stone, and its 
roof, high, high above, is open 
so that the Spirit can descend to 
His worshippers. 

As we entered the massive 
doors, we heard the tail end of 
the invocation issuing from the 
speakers beneath the giant screen 
in the Holy of Holies: “Only 104 
shopping days until Clausmas . . . 
The more you give, the more you 
get . . . Have you been a good 
good little worshipper this year?” 
I knew that the sermon that would 
follow would give me a headache, 
so I left the Boss sitting in his 
pew, playing the slot machines, 
and I strolled over to the punch 
bar. F.A.O. Schwartz has the 
longest and best punch bar of 



any church in the world. 

I gave my order: “Egg Nog.” 
“With or without?” asked the 
waitress. “With, please.” The 
waitress soon reappeared with my 
Egg Nog — a glass of rum with a 
dash of holy Egg Yolk. 

The sermon dragged on and on. 
It was filled with large doses of 
scripture, like “Yes! The only 
helicopter designed for SANCTI- 
FIED GIVING!” and “I dream- 
ed I came down the chimney in my 
Virgin-Form Falsies.” YouVe all 
heard sermons. 

When it was over I returned to 
the Boss’ pew, but he wasn’t 
there. I looked around the Tem- 
ple. Under a hanging neon-light 
display near the altar, I saw him 
talking to ... My Claus! It 
was the scholar! 

When I reached them the schol- 
ar glared at me with feverish eyes. 
This morning he was merely a 
run-of-the-mill thwarted scholar, 
but this evening he was positively 
stark raving. He clenched and 
unclenched his claw-like hands, 
and hissed intensely when he 
spoke. 

“But I tell you you can not 
ban the prophecies of Isaiah,” 
he rasped. 

The Boss glared back. Under his 
ample jowls, his jaw was set 
tightly. “Look at ISAIAH g:6,” 
he replied. “If that isn’t Anti- 
Santa — ” 




112 



UNIVERSE 



“You fool,” cried the scholar. 
“You idiot!” 

The Boss drew himself togeth- 
er. “You,) he said grandly, “are 
a Clausdamn son of a penguin. 
And furthermone — ” 

The scholar recoiled. I gasped. 
The Boss does not use profanity 
often . . . but I have never heard 
him go so far as to call someone 
a s.o.p. The penguin, after all, is 
the personification of baseness and 
evil, since it comes from the oppo- 
site pole. 

“You’re a Rabbit’s uncle!” 
screamed the scholar. His thin 
hand snaked toward his hip 
pocket. 

Fortunately, the Boss was stand- 
ing on the edge of one of the 
swimming pools that dot the sanc- 
tuary. He tumbled backward 
when the scholar fired his pocket 
blaster. 

The bolt of lethal energy hiss- 
ed over the Boss’s head. I didn’t 
take time to look where it struck, 
but from the sound I surmised 
that the neon sign . . . what a mess 
. • • right on the altar. 

The scholar pointed his gun at 
me. “No!” I protested. “I’m 
just a secretary! I — ” 

The Boss surfaced and screamed 
murder. The scholar turned and 
rushed from the sanctuary. I ran 
after him, and the Boss followed, 
bellowing invective that reddened 
my ears, and we gathered police- 



men as we went. 

The scholar was cornered at last 
in the lower levels of the city. He 
had hidden in a huge chute and, 
threatening to detonate a bomb 
he claimed he carried, he held the 
police at bay and forced us to lis- 
ten to a long lecture about the 
corruption of Clausmas. To rea- 
son with an Anti-Santa fanatic is 
utterly impossible. Besides, his 
talk bored me. 

What else could I do? I am 
familiar with chute controls. I 
pulled a switch, pressed a button, 
and waited for the rumble to die 
down. 

The scholar, of course was 
buried under five hundred tons of 
stale gingerbread reindeer as they 
hurried to the incinerator. I 
thought it poetic justice. 

The Boss and I returned to the 
office. 

“I want to ban something — any- 
thing!” he said. 

I prudently picked a less con- 
troversial publication. “There’s 
‘Christianity Does Not Pay,’ ” I 
suggested. 

“I ban it,” he said, and fell 
asleep. 

I turned on the video. The 
news was filled with eloquent 
praise on the deed of patriotism — - 
as it was for days after. But 
not for me. I’m just a secretary. 
I have nothing to do with policy. 
THE END 




Every day she stood in the same place, 
at the same time, and watched the ship. 
Soon it would be ready to leave, but 
first he had to talk to her, stop her 
from going through with her plan. 



By James McKimmey, Jr« 

WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT 



QHE stood in the same place at 
the same time, and the sun 
came down through the clean sky 
just as bright, just as warm, and 
all around, the earth and concrete 
stretched away solid and hard and 
just as unchanging. In the dis- 
tance birds chirped from the 
branches of trees, and a faint wind 
blew the grass and the leaves, and 
from where she stood, of course, 
she could see the rocket, shining, 
pointing, a monstrous thing, the 
reason for her being here, the rea- 
son for her hate. 

She didn’t see him come up, did- 
n’t hear his feet against the con- 
crete, and only until she felt his 
hand touching her shoulder did 
she quit looking at the monster 
and look instead into his eyes. She 
hadn't jumped when he touched 
her, and she looked at him fully, 
coldly. Her nerves had calmed 



and toughened now, and there was 
no frightening her anymore. 

“I beg your pardon,” he said 
smiling, and he was a tall man with 
a straight nose and a square but 
deftly cut chin. His eyes were 
milk blue, but there were lights in 
the blueness, lights of aliveness, 
and only the grey flecks in his hair 
at the temples made him seem 
much older than a youth. 

“All right,” she said. 

“That’s a strange thing to say,” 
he said. 

“It it?” 

“I mean I said, ‘I beg your par- 
don,’ and you answered, ‘All 
right.’ ” 

Did you want something?” she 
said. 

“Just to speak to you.” 

“Now you have,” she said, turn- 
ing away from him. She was yel- 
low-haired, the hair pulled back 




UNIVERSE 



114 

loosely and tied behind. She was 
not tall nor short, but medium, and 
she was well formed and pretty. 
She had dark brown eyes that 
could turn darker, and she was 
dressed in a simple white dress so 
that the tan of her arms and legs 
and face showed strongly against 
the white. She stood beside a 
convertible which was almost the 
color of her hair, resting one hand 
against the chrome that ran along 
the edge where the window was 
rolled down. 

He kept standing there, waiting, 
it seemed, for her to turn to him 
again, to say something nicer per- 
haps, but she didn’t. She had 
returned to watching the monster. 

“You’ve come here for quite a 
time, haven’t you?” he asked fin- 
ally. 

She didn’t answer. 

“Every day, I think,” he said. 

She looked at him, only moving 
her head, her eyes a bit darker. 
“Don’t you have something to do, 
somewhere to go?” 

“I wanted to talk to you,” he 
said. 

“You told me that.” 

“I wanted to know why you 
come here every day and watch.” 

“I couldn’t explain it,” she said, 
and she went back to watching, 
thinking, letting the hatred stir and 
grow inside of her, letting it work 



through her, hurting the beauty 
of her face, putting ugliness there, 
where there should have been 
sweetness and love and not all this 
bitterness. 

“You hate it, don’t you?” he 
asked. 

She rubbed her tan fingers back 
and forth over the chrome of the 
car door. 

“You hate it so much it shows 
in the way you use your eyes, 
your mouth, your hands.” 

“Yes,” she said. 

“Why?” 

“That is no business of yours.” 

“I’m trying to make it my busi- 
ness.” 

“Are you morbid?” she asked 
suddenly, looking at him again. 

“I’m not,” he said. “Not at 

all.” 

“Then please leave me alone,” 
she said. 

“Tell me why,” he said. “I 
don’t think you’ve had anybody to 
tell. Why don’t you tell me?” 

“Why you?” she said. 

“I’m nobody you know, nobody 
you’ve ever seen before, am I?” 

“I don’t know you,” she agreed. 

“Why not me then? What have 
you to lose? I’ve come out of no- 
where, haven’t I? I’m someone 
you could give your hate to, be- 
cause you don't know me.” 

“I don’t want to give my hate 




.WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT 



115 



to you,” she said, “or anybody 

else.” 

“No,” he said, “you want to 
save it for yourself, all private and 
selfish, so that you can let it do 
to you what it’s doing. Hurting 
you. You want to be hurt, don’t 
you?” 

“I want to be alone, not talking 
to you,” she said. 

He was silent for a moment, but 
she knew he was still there. “It’s 
very pretty, isn’t it?” he said, 
softly. “Very lovely, that rock- 
et?” 

She whirled, her eyes darkening 
even more. “Pretty,” she said. 
“Lovely! Are }mu blind? Can’t 
you see what it is, all grim and 
ugly? Can’t you see the death in 
it, and the beast? Are you blind?” 

He smiled at her. “You’ve just 
given me some hate. You’re that 
much lighter now.” 

“There is nothing humorous in 
this,” she said. 

“No,” he said, his smile disap- 
pearing. “There isn’t.” 

“There’s nothing but nothing, 
one nothing after another, and 
when it’s all done, when they’ve 
got it completed and ready to use, 
when they get all the men' in there, 
locked and bound to it, when it’s 
moving, then there’s nothing but 
nothing after that.” 

Her tan fingers were clenched 



around the edge of the door, and 
the sun was coming down full, 
making the diamond of one ring 
shine, the gold of the other glisten. 

“You knew somebody,” he said, 
looking at the rings. “Somebody 
who went on that first one, didn’t 
you?” 

“Yes,” she said, looking at him 
steadily. “I did.” 

“Who?” 

“My husband,” she said, her 
voice going cold, like iced steel. 

“I’m sorry,” he said. 

“So am I,” she said. “I’m sorry 
I knew him. I’m sorry he was my 
husband. Why don’t you leave 
me alone?” 

“I’ve watched you here for a 
long time,” he said. 

She didn’t answer. 

“I knew, really,” he said, “why 
you were here. Even from the 
distance, I could see the way your 
eyes looked and your mouth, and 
I knew why you were here.” 

“Goodby,” she said. 

“It isn’t fair,” he said. “What 
you’re doing.” 

“You’re the judge,” she said. 
“You’re the jury.” 

“No,” he said. “I’m not any- 
thing.” 

“That’s right,” she said. “You’re 
not anything. I’m not anything. 
Nobody is anything. Just that 
rocket.” 




ii6 



UNIVERSE 



“Yes,” he said quietly. “For 
that one moment, for that one in- 
stant when it finally moves, that’s 
all that is anything. That rocket.” 
“And that’s what I’m waiting 
for,” she said. “That one moment, 
that one instant.” 

“Why?” 

“So I can give it my blessings.” 
“Your blessings of hate.” 

“That’s right.” 

“You’ve condemned it, haven’t 
you?” 

“I have. I’ve condemned it in 
every way I know how. I hope 
it works, my condemnation.” 

“There are men who will be on 
it.” 

“Of course.” 

“Living, breathing men, with 
hearts and minds and bodies.” 
“That’s right.” 

“And you’ve condemned them?” 
“Every one of them.” 

“Because of him.” 

“Right again.” 

“Is that fair?” 

She laughed, a cold sparkling 
kind of laugh that was unlike the 
shape of her face, hands, or body, 
but like the shade of her eyes, the 
expression of her mouth. “That 
word again,” she said. 

“Is it funny?” he asked. 

“Yes,” she said. “It’s pretty 
funny.” 

“Why?” 



“You said fair. You said it 
right here in the shadow of that 
rocket, right within sight of it, so 
it could hear you saying it. Don’t 
you think it’s laughing right now, 
just like I am? Don’t you think 
that’s pretty funny, for it to hear 
you say that word?” 

She watched his eyes, the milk 
blue of them, the faint lights deep 
in that blueness, and she had to 
look away. 

“I think I’ve figured it out” 
he said. 

“Good for you.” 

“You blame the rocket. You 
blame him. He went away in one 
just like it and left you here, 
alone, and he didn’t come back. 
So you blame him and you blame 
the rocket and everything associ- 
ated with it.” 

“That’s right,” she said. 

“Will that do any good?” 
“Yes,” 

“What good will it do?” 

“It’ll do me good,” she said. 
“Hating?” 

“Hating.” 

“It wasn’t the rocket’s fault,” 
he said. 

“No?” 

“It wasn’t his fault either.” 
“Oh, no.” 

“You can’t disregard everything, 
just for yourself. You have to 
open up and give a little bit of 




WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT 



yourself, to keep up with time. 
Time moves and you’ve got to 
move with it. Closing up and try- 
ing to keep all of yourself won’t 
work, don’t you know that?” 

“Go away,” she said, rubbing 
her fingers along the sun-warmed 
chrome. 

“I will,” he said. “But first I 
want to ask you not to condemn 
anymore. I want to ask you to 
forget being bitter and forget hat- 
ing, will you?” 

“Why?” she asked. 

“Because pretty soon it’s going 
to leave, that rocket, and every- 
thing has to be just right.” 

“Do you think my hating, my 
condemning can hurt it?” 

“Yes.” 

“Good.” 

“No,” he said, “it isn’t good. 
It’s deadly. There mustn’t be 
anything wrong. Everything has 
got to be right.” 

“It wasn’t the first time. Why 
should it be this time?” 

“Because this time everything 
has got to be right. There has to 
be faith, in everyone, in everything, 
and then it will work, don’t you 
see that?” 

“It didn’t work the first time,” 
she insisted. 

“Why didn’t it?” he asked 
coldly. 

“Because it’s a monster, that 



117 

thing.” 

“No, it isn’t a monster. It’s 
just metal and fibers and wires 
and glass. It’s just a mechanical 
thing, with no soul, no life, only 
that which we make it.” 

“Why didn’t it work the first 
time then?” she said. 

“Because there was a lack of 
faith somewhere, little bits of 
doubts and misgivings and threads 
of hatred. If didn’t have enough 
spirit given to it, and somewhere, 
up there, it died.” 

“That’s foolish,” she said. 

“No, it isn’t.” 

“Do you think that it was my 
fault then? Some of that failure 
was my fault, and I ought to be 
standing here, blaming myself and 
not it or him or anything but me?” 
“I do.” 

She laughed again. And then she 
was back looking at his eyes, the 
soft blueness of them, the lights. 
She stopped laughing. “What 
should I do then?” 

“Pray for it,” he said. “Give 
it your faith this time. Hope with 
it, work with it, fight with it. Set 
your mind to it and think of noth- 
ing else but that it will work.” 
“Would that help? Would that 
make up in any way at all for 
what happened the first time?” 
“Yes,” he said. 

She shook her head. “It would- 




ii8 



UNIVERSE 



n’t help,” she said. 

“Yes it would. It really would. 
You have to work with it this time, 
you have to urge and push in your 
brain, you have to be that one 
small fragment, like the link in a 
chain, and 3'0u can’t break or let 
down. You have to encourage and 
'bless, bless with all your might.” 
“I’ll bless all right,” she said. 
“Not that way,” he said. “Right- 
ly, with all your might.” 

She looked across the grass and 
the flat concrete, and she saw it 
resting there, great and shining, 
pointing to the sky, a vast thing, 
strong with energy, readv, wait- 
ing. “Bless the rocket, bless the 
men in it,” she said. 

“Yes,” he whispered. “Bless it, 
bless them . . . bless me.” 

She looked at him quickly, fully. 
He smiled; pleadingly, she thought. 
“You?” 

“Me. Will you?” he asked, and 
then he turned and walked away 
from her, across the concrete, over 
the grass,, onto the other concrete. 
She watched him, a lonely figure, 



moving, moving, and the time hung 
motionless, the sun shone, the wind 
drifted, and then, finally, the mon- 
ster had swallowed him. 

She closed her e3^es, searching 
within herself. She fought the bit- 
terness, she fought the hatred. Try, 
she tliought. Just trv it, anyway. 
“Bless you,” she said, moving her 
lips with it. The bitterness and the 
hatred fought back. “Bless you,” 
she said again, speaking it out loud 
this time, and then something did 
come alive within her, something 
small, infinitesimal, but it came 
alive; she could feel it. “Bless 
you,” she said, repeating it, and 
she straightened herself, lifting her 
chin. She heard ' the sound then, 
the roar, the splitting roar, but 
she didn’t open her ev'es. “Bless 
you,” she repeated, over and over, 
while the air turned hotter than 
the sun had made it, red with the 
jets, and her ears pounded with the 
roar. “Bless you,” she chanted. 
“Bless you, bless you, bless you 

7 ) 

— The End — 



★ 

★ ★ ★ 




COVERING THE COVER 

(And Miscellaneous Other Subjects) 



A manuscript arrived in my of- 
fice the other day, leaving me 
somewhat confused — which isn’t too 
hard to do. The article was plain- 
ly marked Editorial, January 1955 
UNIVERSE, and was from R. A. 
Palmer. The confusion arose from 
the fact that earlier this month I 
had received an editorial from Rap, 
and it was already set in type and 
proof-read. Now comes a second 
one, barely reaching me in time to 
be included in this issue. Para- 
phrasing the Great Holmes, I said 
to myself, “You know Palmer’s 
methods, Mahaffey; apply them.” 
And I came up with several possi- 
ble answers, which I’ve narrowed 
down to the two most likely. 

First, and most probably the cor- 
rect answer, is that Rap simply 
forgot that he had already written 
an editorial for this issue. 

A second, and much more color- 
ful, solution to the problem is this: 
As Rap mentions in the following 
article, it’s difficult to reach him 
hy phone, and almost impossible to 
get him to answer a letter. I re- 
call writing him at least three let- 
ters requesting an editorial for the 
January issue and phoning him 
once. In order to teach me not to 
be so insistent, he may be send- 
ing me one editorial for each re- 
quest, hoping that I’ll be so con- 
fused as to which one to use and 



what to do with the extras that in 
the future I’ll send him only one 
reminder. If this is the case, I 
should be receiving two more Janu- 
ary editorials in the next week or 
so. By then, this issue will have 
gone to press, and the editorials 
can be returned to him or held for 
the next issue. 

Time was, back in the years 
when Rap was editing Amazing 
Stories and Fantastic Adventures, 
when I had a ritual for reading 
any issue. I would first admire 
the cover, then scan the contents 
page for the names of favorite au- 
thors. The nc.xt step was to thumb 
through the magazine looking at 
the illustrations. After this had 
been done, I would turn to the 
editorial and read it before start- 
ing any of the stories. Rap’s edi- 
torials covered any and all topics, 
jumping from subject to subject 
rapidly and with no apparent con- 
nection. Many of you readers have 
written in to say that this is the 
type of editorial you prefer, and I 
certainly agree with you. So, when 
Rap’s Editorial II arrived, it seem- 
ed to me that it filied the bill per- 
fectly, bringing you up to date on 
current Universe doings, in a style 
reminiscent of the old AS and FA 
Palmer editorials. Am I right? 
— Bea 

41 « 




120 



UNIVERSE 



Live and learn. That’s what they 
say. Now, if we were writing an 
editorial for our sister magazine. 
Mystic, we’d probably start off by 
saying: Die and learn. Personally 
we think you can learn more by 
dying and living, but we also feel 
it’s a good idea to learn as much as 
you can while you are living! And 
thus, this issue, we are beginning 
to learn something new for us»: we 
are learning how to prepare covers 
for the engravers — which up to 
now has always been done by the 
art director, or at least by an art- 
ist. 

We discover there is a lot to 
learn. Even about so simple a 
thing as “how do the titles get on 
the cover, anyhow?’’ How do they? 
Well, first they are set in type. But 
do we use the type to print the titles 
on the cover? Heck no — we only 
use it to make an etching proof; 
then we cut it out with a scissors 
and paste it on a piece of card- 
board along with the logo (name of 
magazine and a lot of other junk 
like the date, “K” for Kable News 
Co. (our distributor). You didn’t 
know that’s how newsdealers tell 
where to return the magazine, did 
you? There’s an “ANC’’ some- 
where on a cover which goes back 
to American News Co., and there’s 
an “ID” for International Distri- 
butors, and so on. 

Next, we find all the type does 
not go on the same board! Why? 
Because some of it might be print- 
ed in another color. There are 
three (or more) plates to be made. 
Well, after we’ve made all the 
pasteups, they go to an engraver, 
who photographs them, then makes 
a set of engravings. The engrav- 



ings then go to the printer, who 
doesn’t print from them. Ye gods! 
When do we print? Well, the print- 
er has to make printing plates, 
sometimes known as “stereos” and 
sometimes as “electros”. (They even 
print from plastics these days!) 
But do they make the “stereos” di- 
rectly from your engravings? Heck, 
no! They make “mats”, out of 
paper, and then pour melted metal 
on them. ;£] 

Then they print! 

So we’re learning. And the rea- 
son is our artist who previously did 
jthe work got so busy he couldn’t 
handle us any more. And now 
that we’ve learned how, we’ve de- 
cided we might as well save the 
money and continue doing it our- 
selves. So, if you see some queer 
things on the cover, like titles up- 
sidedown or straying off the page, 
or just plain missing (our glue did- 
n’t stick), don’t wonder about it — 
an amateur is at work! 

By the way, how do you like our 
new type cover? We’re going to 
use photos for a while, to see how 
it works out. And along that line, 
maybe there are some amateur 
photographers among our readers 
who would get a kick out of dream- 
ing up some sort of science-fiction 
cover, with fake stuff, or double 
exposure, or models or sets, and if 
so, we’d be happy to see some of 
your efforts and who can tell, we 
might even buy one for a cover! 
As a matter of fact, what’s wrong 
with holding a contest? We’ll pay 
$25.00 for the best cover photo 
submitted to us before March 1, 
1955, and will consider those who 
don’t cop first place as possible 
covers for purchase at our regu- 




COVERING THE COVER 



12 I 



lar rates. Get out your camera 
and your model and go to it! (Say 
that might be fun, dressing your 
model in cellophane and making 
like a BEM!) 

On the cover this month you 
might have noticed the name of 
T. P. Caravan, who, up to now, 
had only done humorous and slap- 
stick shorts for us, (and very well 
too!) Well, now he’s done a long 
story called “The Shoemaker of 
Lan” and we think you’re going to 
like it. It’s unusual, along with 
Frank M. Robinson’s unusual 
“Santa Claus Planet’’. This Santa 
Claus story. is in our January is- 
sue rather than December because 
January goes on sale in November. 
Clear? Over and out! 

Anyway, Merry Christmas to you 
all, and a very Huppy New Yahr. 

We got a letter today from Ed- 
mond Hamilton, in which he says; 
“The sequel to Starman Come 
Homo is belting along well, and I 
think this will be a good hot yarn 
in its own right.’’ Well, if Ed says 
it’s going to be hot, who are we 
to contradict him? So why not sit 
right down and write us a letter, 
enclosing three bucks for a sub- 
scription, so you don't miss this 
yarn? We’ll announce it when it’s 
scheduled, of course, but with 
sales booming the way they are 
(we sell almost half as many as we 
used to sell before science fiction 
became the rage), it’s hard to tell 
if you’ll be able to find a copy at 
your newsstands. Remember that 
“K” on the cover: it means Kash 
’em in Kwick before they Kroak. 
You got to buy quick these days be- 
fore the competition buries your 
favorite magazine beneath a pile of 



other people’s favorite magazines. 

A lot of people write us letters, 
and expect an answer. Well, that’s 
useless, because we haven’t time. 
We print your letter if we can, 
but we don’t answer it. So, some 
people think they’ll fool us, and 
use the telephone. Now that won’t 
won’t work either, and here’s why: 
The Amherst Telephone Company 
s just a small outfit, and they 
hook up their switchboard to the 
barbwire fence just out of town, 
and we subscribers just hook up 
our phones to the fence in front 
of the house. So reception isn’t so 
good. In fact, on long distance 
calls we can’t hear a thing, so it’s 
useless even to try to phone us. 
This is very handy, in a way, be- 
cause individuals claiming to be 
Venusians can’t bother us, and 
authors can’t reach us to ask when 
we are going to pay for their man- 
uscript published back in 1952. The 
correct answer, or course, is some- 
time in 1956. We mention that for 
those who might be curious. But 
we will pay. We just don’t like 
to be hasty about spending money 
other people are not hasty in send- 
ing us. Pay as you are paid, is 
our motto. Seems to be the good 
old Republican way of doing busi- 
ness — and a right smart way, 
too! You can go into debt jump- 
ing the gun! 

However, things aren’t really so 
dark in the science fiction field as 
they were. Things are picking up 
slowly, and they will return to 
normal. We think you’ve noticed 
that the last three issues have been 
lulus in regard to stories. They’ve 
been very good stories. Authors 
aren’t riding along on a tidal wave 




122 



UNIVERSE 



now — they’re really having to pad- 
dle. And the result is the guy who 
knows which end of the oar to 
pound his typewriter with is the 
guy who is now appearing in 
print. The guy who never deserved 
to appear in print has gone back 
to Satevepost and Colliers. 

This issue marks an anniversary 
for us. Two years ago (or i-ather, 24 
issues ago) we were riding the crest, 
and wanted to go monthly. So we 
asked our readers to subscribe to 
a special 25-issue subscription 
for ?5.00, and promised them life- 
time renewal rights at that 20c 
per copy rate if they’d do it in 
sufficient numbers to help us go 
monthly. Well, they did, and we 
went monthly, and also increased 
our distribution by 35,000 copies — 
exactly the same month the big 
slump began! Well, that was with 
good old Other Worlds, and strange- 
ly, ironically, the net result of the 
great assistance we got from those 
wonderful readers was the death 
of OW. Today we like to think 
that Universe is the old OW come 
back to life. Actually, it is. The 
same old girl with a new name. 
And thus, we want to remind our 
subscribers that the offer still 
holds. You who have an “R” after 
your name in our files, are entitled 
for life to a 20c renewal rate. Thus, 
when you get a notice in this is- 
sue, or the next, or the next, that 
your subscription is expiring, you 
can automatically assume that you 
will get credit for your renewal 
at the special rate. So, send it in. 



And we sincerely hope you’ll do 
that little thing 100%, because we 
really need your help again. But 
don’t do it if you feel Universe is- 
n’t a real nice magazine, and you 
really want to read it. We haven’t 
any big ideas about leading the 
field this time, but only to use ev- 
ery cent we get to make Universe 
as fine a bit of reading as we can. 

Last time we asked our readers 
to subscribe, we had 58,000 read- 
ers. We got 1V2 percent of them 
to subscribe! This time, why can’t 
we get 5% to subscribe? Is it im- 
possible? It shouldn’t be! Look 
what you get if you do subscribe — 
ten free issues of Other Worlds and 
Science Stories! So if you are a 
comparative newcomer to science 
fiction, here’s your chance to read 
some of the old classics which 
many old-time readers remember 
as material that made OW so good 
its editor forgot himself and got a 
silly old swelled head and lost his 
good judgment! Take a glance at 
the renewal coupon in this issue 
and that big free offer! 

You know, Bea is supposed to 
write part of this editorial, so we 
will quit now and let her add any- 
thing she has to say. Actually she 
ought to write it all, because the 
last three issues she’s done en- 
tirely herself, and we’ve noted the 
vast improvement in the stories. 
She’s doing okay, and we think 
maybe the quality she’s put into 
the magazine will be the most 
powerful arguement in persuading 
you to subscribe . — Rap 




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PERSONALS 




Have over 400 magazines and 50 
pocketbooks for sale. Very reason- 
able prices. Specify particular 
wants when writing. Carroll Col- 
lins, Rt. 9, Kingsport, Tenn . . . 
Have back ishs of IF, UNIVERSE, 
OW and many other mags including 
pulps & pocketbooks. Send want 
list. Robert Cobb, 488 Allpeton 
St., Arlington, Mass , . . For sale: 
GALAXY 1-39; OW 2-31; MADGE 
1-18; F&FS 1-19 plus 2-5 of vol. 
4, June ’50 to Jan. ’54 plus some 
’49s. Also various books. Am 
forced to liquidate collection; name 
your price. C. Besterman, 2955 
McKinley St., Washington 15, 
D. C . . . Wanted: The jacket for 
"Without Sorcery” by Theodore 
Sturgeon. Alan Cheuse, 154 Lewis 
St., Perth Amboy, N. J . . , I want 
some pen pals between 15 and 18, 
any state in the union. Will reply 
to every letter I get. Bruce John- 
stone, S.S.P.O. Box 2272, Saginaw, 
Mich . . . Mint copies of British 
mags and pocketbooks for sale at 
15c each Walter Norcott, 41 St. 
John's, Worchester, England , . . 
Will trade NEW WORLDS 6-12 & 
20, in good condition, for Mar., 
June, Aug., & Nov., ’53 FANTASY 



FICTION MAG, in good condition. 
Will buy first three GALAXY, in 
good condition, and anthology 
“From Unknown Worlds,’’ in good 
condition. John G. Trimble, 2450 
Easy Avenue, Long Beach 10, 
Calif . . . Have slick and pulp stf 
zines for sale Also, E. C. comics, 
stf comics, hardcover books and 
pocketbooks. Would lige to corre- 
spond with amateur artists. War- 
ren Demiis, 511 Plaisance Ave., 
Rockford, III .. . Want issues 1-5 
of F&SF; also want Wright’s “The 
Amphibians.” (Galaxy SF Novel 
No. 4. G. A. Wilson, 114 West 
Main St, Waynesboro, Penna . . . 
Wanted: ERB’s "Mars” books. 

Reading copy or PBs preferred. 
Send 10c for current copy of Kay- 
mar Trader, also. K. Martin Carl- 
son. 1028 Third Avenue South, 
Moorhead Minn . , , ESSEFF- 
TEENS, newly-formed teen-age 
fanclub desires new members. For 
details write Ralph Hickok, 1869 
Preble Ave., Green Bay, Wise. 
Members receive fanzine, news- 
letter, and many aids and services 
. . . Wanted: Midwestern fen to 
join the Indiana Science Fiction 
Association, a member-club of the 



124 



PERSONALS 



I2S 



Stf League of Indiana. Dues are 
$3.00 a year in Indianapolis, $1.50 
elsewhere. Members receive the 
club fanzine and newsletter, jtlus 
the fanzine and newszine of the 
League. For further information, 
write Edward McNulty, 5646 N. 
Winthrop St., Indianapolis, Indi- 
ana . . . Two Martians are start- 
ing' a fan club, The Aliens, and 
need members. Central headquar- 
ters will be in Minneapolis, Minn., 
with bull sessions for local mem- 
bers and a fan -mag for all mem- 
bers. The first 25 to join will 
receive a stf novel free. Send 25c 
plus name and address to The 
Aliens, 2729 Aldrich Avenue South, 
Minneapolis 8, Minn. The 25c is 
for the first edition of the fan 
mag . . . Wanted-. GALAXY, Vol. 
1 entire, 1 & 3 o/ Vol. 2, No. 5 of 
Vol. 5 and No. 4 of Vol. 7 F&SF, 
all of Vol. 1 & 2, No. 2 of Vol. 3 
and No. 4 of Vol. 6. Want to cor- 
respond with fen age 1 to 100. Send 
mags, letters, cards and messenger 
rockets to Jim Wilson, 693 Evans 
St. ,Oshkosh, Wise . . . The Amer- 
ican Science Fantasy Society in- 
vites visitors and prospective mem- 
bers to attend our meetings which 
feature famed guest speakers and 
stf pro’s. A writer’s work shop 
is already being formed for aspir- 
ing authors. Meetings are held 
every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the 
month, in Hall A-1, Werderman’s 
Hall, 3rd Avenue and 16th Street, 
New York City . , . For sale: 
“1948” in good cond., no d/w, 
$1.00; ERB’s "Tarzan of the Apes" 
{A. C. McClurg, 1914), good cond., 
no d/w, $2.00. Would like pen pals 
from anywhere. Dainis Bisenieks, 
336 S. Warren, Saginaw, Mich. 




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Special combination offer 
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• 

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$4.50. 

Quantity limited. Order today 
to avoid disappointment. 

VENTURE BOOK & GIFT SHOP 
P.O. Box 671, Evanston, Illinois 

Enclosed please find check, cash, 

money order for 

Pleose send me 

Name 

Address 

City & State 






Dear Ray: 

Congratulations on a superb set 
up of the September issue No. 7 of 
UNIVERSE. All four stories 
were excellent. Evan Hunter real- 
ly did a good job with his story 
“Terwilliger & The War Time Ma- 
chine.” The best, though, was 
“Starman Come Home.” I finish- 
ed it last night at 10:.30 pm. 

Glad to see the PERSONALS col- 
umn back in full swing again with 
old and new faces in it. Also hope 
to see some new fanzines reviewed 
in “The Club House” for a change 
instead of the old stand bys. 

When the blazes is Rog going to 
write some more stories for UNI- 
VERSE? 

Keep getting in more good stories 
and I’ll be a permanent reader. 
In fact, with the PERSONALS 
column and THE CLUB HOUSE 
back in operation again after a 

long rest period I can hardly wait 
til ish No. 8. 

Raleigh Evans Multog 
7 Greenwood Road 
Pikesville 8, Maryland 

P. S. Are there any fans who 
would like to correspond with me 
from Idaho? That is one State 



that is hard to get pen-pals from. 

Come on, you Idaho fen, are yon 
going to let him talk about your 
state like that? Get busy and 
flood him ^vith letters. — Bea. 

Dear RAP and Bea: 

Congratulations are in order 
for the new Universe. Like most 
former Other Worlds subscribers, 
I began receiving Universe and 
Science Stories after OW folded. I 
actually liked USE better than its 
companion, but was happy with 
both mags. I seriously felt that 
if you retained both magazines, 
that you should both take one on, 
and therefore split the chores even- 
ly. But with ScS gone, Pm sure 
that USE will go on to retain, and 
intensify, the flavor and color of 
the old OW. 

There is just one request I have 
to make, now that you’ve given us 
an Ed Hamilton epic, and that is 
where are the Joe Gibson novel- 
ettes? Joe was one of the most 
promising writers in OW’s fold, 
and I’m sure Universe readers 
would like to see more of him. 

I have a Personals item enclosed. 



126 




LETTERS 



127 



and the moment I get my greedy 
little hands on the price of a sub- 
scription. I will stop hunting for 
Universe, and let the U. S. Mail 
deliver it to me. 

John G. Trimble, Pfc 
2450 Easy Avenue 
Long Beach 10, California 
We’ve gloated over your kind 
words, we’ve published your Per- 
sonals item, and we’re now watch- 
ing the mail for your sub. As 
for Joe Gibson stories, we can’t 
print ’em if Joe ivon’t write ’em. 
Haven’t seen any of his stories 
lately, but maybe this ivill start 
him going again. Let’s hope so, 
because he’s done some really good 
stories for us in the past — too far 
in the past to suit us! — Bea 



Dear Ray, 

Since I have finished reading the 
September issue of Universe I 
thought I’d drop you a line and tell 
you what I though of it. Here is 
my rating of the stories in that is- 
sue. 1) Starman Come Home. 2) 
The Crazy Man. 3) Terwilliger 
& The War Machine. 4) Symto- 
maticus Medicus. Starman Come 
Home was one of the finest novels 
I have ever read. It ranks with 
S. J. Byrne’s Powewr Metal. It is 
truly a novel I shall never forget. 
On the whole I think I can say 
that it was the finest issue of a 
magazine I have read and I’m not 
saying that because I had a letter 
of mine published in it. I also 
liked the cover. I don’t mind scant- 



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128 



UNIVERSE 



ily clad maidens on your covers 
when they are good looking like 
this one with the long red hair. 
Why don’t you have some covers 
and interior illustrations by Virgil 



IHE 

MAGIC BAG 

Dictated by 

The Inner Circle 

to 

MARK PROBERT 

A Manuscript Received Clairaiid- 
iently by this famous medium. Dis- 
courses by the following; Lo Sun 
Yat; Professor Alfred Luntz; Ara- 
kaski; Ramon Natalli; Lao-Tse; 
Yada Di Slii’ite; Maharajah Nat- 
cha; Michael Faraday; Thomas 
Carlyle; Martin L.atfimore Ling- 
ford; Ali Ben Casi ; Kay Ting; and 
Dr. Sakuto Nikkioi, and including 
such subjects as: Earth’s Age; Cre- 
ation; The Ethereans; Mind Force; 
Time, Space and Consciousness; 
Death and Reincarnation; Nature 
of the Cosmos; and many more. 

IN TWO VOLUMES 
. 5^.00 

Order From 

MARK PROBERT 

931 - 26th Street 
San Diego 2# Calif. 



Finlay? 

These are the things that I am 
looking forward to in future issues 
of Universe. 1) The return of 
OW’s back cover and missing 
pages. 2) More stories by Ed- 
mond Hamilton, John Bloodstone, 
S. J. Byrne, Rog Phillips, and 
last but not least Ray Palmer. You 
write pretty good stories. 

In closing this letter I’d like to 
list the reasons why I enjoy Uni- 
verse and why it’s my favorite mag. 
Good stories, good covers and il- 
lustrations, and it’s Palmerized like 
Don Wegars says. In my book, 
Universe takes a back seat to no 
one! It’s great! 

Paul Corley 

627 Sheridan Road 
Winnetka, Illinois. 

We, too, are looking forward to 
bringing back the extra pages and 
back cover paintings, but all those 
things take time and money. We’ll 
do our best, though, and maybe it 
won’t take too long. If You’ve 
read the editorial you know that 
you can be ivaiching for more 
Hamilton — a Sturman sequel! 

— Bea 

Dear Sir : 

We arc very sorry to take your 
time, but we haven’t any relations 
in this wonderful land of George 
Washington. 

I got your address from a copy 
of “Science Stories’’ and other of 
“Universe’’ and thought you could 
put us in contact with some fellow 
or girl readers of your magazines, 
and therefore, we enclose here our 
addresses with the plea you will 
do all you can for us. We want 
to exchange correspondence, books, 





LETTERS 



129 



photographs and so on; and in case 
we go to North America we would 
have relations. 

My name is Richard, I am now 17 
years old and prefer to maintain 
correspondence with girls and boys 
no older than 18. Betty is 20 years 
old and wants to exchange letters 
with fellows no older than 27. 

I give you my best congratula- 
tions for your publications. I en- 
joyed very much your copy of “Un- 
iverse” No. 3 (December 1953) in 
which are presented the short sto- 
ries “On Mars We Trod” and “The 
Savages”. Everest” is also good 
but I like better ‘The Adventure Of 
The Misplaced Hound.” 

It is a pity that I can’t get those 
magazines here and that I can’t 
afford a subscription — I’d like it 
very much. It is also very ex- 
pensive to buy these magazines 
here. 

We hope you will find some peo- 
ple who want to write us. If it 
does cost money, we’ll gladly pay. 
I beg your pardon for keeping you 
busy and we thank you very much. 
Please, write me (Richard) in 
English or German. 

Richard Albert Ertl 
Rioja 470 Street 
Posadas— MISIONES 
ARGENTINA 
and 

Lyda Betty Vignoles 
Rivadavia 396 Street 
Posadas— MISIONES 
ARGENTINA 

One of the many things that 
science-fiction fans are interest- 
ed in is corresponding with other 
fans, so you and Shirley should get 
quite a few pen pals from the U.S. 
And since you find it difficult to 



obtain U.S. magazines and books, 
I’m sure you'll be able to arrange 
some sort of trading deal to sup- 
plement your supply. Welcome to 
the Universe family, and we hope 
you like some of the current and 
future issues as well as you did 
those in the past. — Bea, 

Dear Bea: 

Your subscription service is im- 
proving — UNIVERSE reached my 
mailbox only three days after I’d 
picked it up at the drug store. The 
last few ishes were anywhere up- 
wards from a month late. If you 
print this letter, I should like to 
go on record as advising all your 
readers to take advantage of the 
reciprocal agreement between the 
Palmer mags and AUTHENTIC. 
Received my 5th ish of the latter 
and it’s quite good. 

Edmond Hamilton wrote some 
pretty good space opera. The kind 
of story that sells copies. Seems 
I remember RAP expressing some 
dissatisfaction with said type in 
No. 3 OW, though. The yarn about 
Terwilliger and the Martians was 
unbelievable (even as S-F). Alan 
Nourse could’ve done worse as 
could R. J. McGregor. 

I agree with Earl Kemp, only 
I’d prefer a 1,000,000 word novel. 
I imagine this is impossible at 
present, though. Somehow short 
stories don’t go over well with me. 
They depend too much on gim- 
micks. 

Have been reading some back 
ishes of FA (FANTASTIC AD- 
VENTURES) and it struck me 
that OW really was just a contin- 
uation of said mag as UNIVERSE 
is a continuation of OW. I’m dis- 




' UNIVERSE 



appointed that USF has dropped 
the type of story that made those 
first two mags tos in my book. I 
enjoyed such as “Slaves of the 
Worm,” the Colossus Trilogy and 
S. J. Byrne’s subsequent sequel. 
Had hoped Mystic would feature 
such stories, but it looks like we’re 
going to get three ishes of FATE 
every two months. Brrrrrr. Has 
Wlh got a tnonoply on C. P. 
Meyers and Toffee? 

Would like correspondence with 
any S-F addicts who read 10 or 
more mags a month (S-F mags, of 
course) . 

Ed Luksus 
3717 Johnson St. 

Gary, Ind. 

Tell me, Ed, do you have your 
own personal and private jinx 
where your Universe sub is con- 
cerned? Seems to me that you’ve 
been having more trouble than the 
rest of our subscribers combined. 
Pretty soon I’m going to resort to 
sending your sub by carrier pig- 
eon, three weeks in advance of the 
on sale date. So you think Hamil- 
ton wrote “some pretty good space 
opera,” do you? Well, I think he 
wrote some pretty terrific space 
opera, and I’m ivatching the mail 
closely for his sequel. Mixed in 
with all the other types of stf, I 
personally like a good old finger- 
nail-biting, edge-of-the-chair type 
of space opera where the hero 
wades through obstacles galore to 
emerge victorious, with the hero- 
ine draped adoringly on h-isarm. 
And I have lots of company, be- 
cause 99% of the letters we re- 
ceived about this issue called 
Hamilton’s story “the best in 
years,” and asked for more. — Bea 



WHAT WOULD YOU DO 

if you found 

A GOOD THING? 

You’d pass it on to your friends, 
wouldn’t you? Well, that's exactly 
what Ray Palmer Is doing In this ad, 
which is a personal endorsement. 
You know how he grouses about the 
way things fall apart ten minutes 
after you buy them, or they fall 
entirely to perform their purpose? 
Shoddy products from shoddy work- 
men, he calls them, and he suspects 
it’s a deliberate inferiority com- 
ponent to cheat you. So when he 
finds something that's really good 
but hasn’t a chance because It’s 
put out by an honest man who can't 
buck the big BUSINESS boyS, he 
ballyhoos it. You see. Ray’s had 
dandruff for years, an(i no product 
he ever bought did a bit of good. 
Then, through Ken Arnold, he met 
Guy L. Turner, of Boise, Idaho. 
Well, Guy has a hair treatment that 
licked Ray’s dandruff In ten days! 
Although Guy doesn’t claim it, the 
stuff cures a lot of skin ailments, 
not only scalp ailments. At least it 
cured his wife’s rash. So, If you’re 
like Ray, and appreciate an honest 
man and an honest product, here’s 
his tip to you: Get 

TURN-ER'S 

It Turns Hair Hack To Its 
Natural Color, And It Cures 
Dandruff Positively. 

ONE BOTTLE WILL DO IT! 

$ 5.00 



WRITE: 



GUY L. TURNER 

Box 145-P 

BOISE, IDAHO 

And Tell Him Ray Sent You 




FREE! 

10 SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINES 

OTHER WORLDS - SCIENCE STORIES 
Both Out of Print! 

With every subscription to UNIVERSE! 

$3.50 worth ot mo.gazines, all different, for nothing. And in addition you 
save $1.20 on a subscription to UNIVERSE. A total saving of $*4.70! 

Just send in $3.00 for a regular 12-issue subscription to UNIVERSE, and 
we'll do the rest. But we reserve the right to select the issues you will 
receive, as files are incomplete, and all are rare. Issues date from 1951 
to 1954. 

And if you want issues 1-2-3-4-6-7 of UNIVERSE os part cf your sub- 
scription, you may request these issues. We have a very few left. 

Clip this coupon and fill it out. 

Mail to Ray Palmer, Amherst, Wise. 

Ray Palmer, Amherst, Wise. 

Dear Ray; Piease send me your 10 free copies of OTHER WORLDS and 
SCIENCE STO.RIES, and enter my subscription for UNIVERSE 
for the next 12 issues. I enclose $3.00 for this $7.70 value, 
i Send mo issues 1-2-3-4-6-7 Icircle those you want) of UNI- 

i VERSE as part of iny subscription. 

i 

I NAME; 

I ADDRESS: 

I CITY: 



Zone: . 



State: 



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DON'T WAIT A MINUTE lONGER! 
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Zone. .State 








Another scan 

by 



capel736